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--- --- --- ---- ---- CCCCC OOOOO RRRR EEEE | H | / A \ | R | |D \ C O O R R E |---| |---| |--/ | | C O O RRRR EEEE | | | | | \ | / C O O R R E --- --- --- --- -- -- ---- CCCCC. OOOOO. R R. EEEE. Vol. 2, Issue 6 November, 1994 The electronic magazine of hip-hop music and culture Brought to you as a service of the Committee of Rap Excellence Section 1 -- ONE ***A*** Table of Contents Sect. Contents Author ----- -------- ------ 001 The introduction A Da 411 - table of contents B Da 411 - HardC.O.R.E. C Yo! We Want Your Demos 002 What's Up in Hip-Hop A New Jack Hip Hop Awards Info isbell@ai.mit.edu B The CD Debate, Part 3 d1dol@dtek.chalmers.se C Commercially Yours smcneal@bigcat.missouri.edu D Jeru the Hypocrite juonstevenja@bvc.edu E Digging Up The Roots dwarner@cybernetics.net F The Justice System dagomar@aol.com G Roots-N-Rap: The Last Poets rapotter@colby.edu H Yaggfu Front leaves Mercury dwarner@cybernetics.net I The Atlanta Scene martay@america.net J Flash's Video Review juonstevenja@bvc.edu K Lyric of the Month O.C. L Feature Review: isbell@ai.mit.edu The Coup, "Genocide and Juice" 003 The Official HardC.O.R.E. Album Review Section A Bomb Hip-Hop Comp. mhadi@cldc.howard.edu B BoogieMonsters klm3298@cs.rit.edu C Common Sense ollie@uclink.berkeley.edu D Craig Mack klm3298@cs.rit.edu E Digable Planets dwarner@cybernetics.net F Finsta & Bundy klm3298@cs.rit.edu G K.M.D. ollie@uclink.berkeley.edu H Mexakinz martay@america.net I Notorious B.I.G. juonstevenja@bvc.edu J O.C. ollie@uclink.berkeley.edu K Off the Dome Comp. rmacmich@oregano.mwc.edu L Paris rapotter@colby.edu M Phat Trax Comp. rapotter@colby.edu N PMD klm3298@cs.rit.edu O Poppa Doo dwarner@cybernetics.net P Saafir dwarner@cybernetics.net Q Simple E dwarner@cybernetics.net R Sir Mix-a-Lot juonstevenja@bvc.edu S Skadanks dwarner@cybernetics.net T Sudden Death juonstevenja@bvc.edu ***B*** The C.O.R.E. creed We at C.O.R.E. support underground hip-hop (none of that crossover bullshucks). That means we also support the 1st Amendment and the right to uncensored music. The C.O.R.E. anthems How About Some HardC.O.R.E. M.O.P. We In There (remix) Boogie Down Productions Feel the Vibe, Feel the Beat Boogie Down Productions I Used To Love H.E.R. Common Sense Crossover EPMD True to the Game Ice Cube Straighten It Out Pete Rock and CL Smooth In the Trunk Too $hort Remember Where You Came From Whodini To subscribe to the HardC.O.R.E. listserver, send a message to majordomo@cybernetics.net with the following lines of text in the body of your message: subscribe hardcore-list end You will receive new issues of HardC.O.R.E. as they become available. Back issues of HardC.O.R.E. are available via anonymous FTP at ftp.etext.org://pub/Zines/HardCORE and via Gopher at gopher.etext.org://pub/Zines/HardCORE. Asalaam alaikum from Flash ***C*** A'ight, let's say you got a demo that you've been trying to shop around. A few people like it, but nobody with some clout is buying. Or let's say you know someone who's got some skills, but you don't know what you can do to help 'em get on. Suppose even further, that you've got an internet account (chances are you do, else you wouldn't be reading this), and want to give you and your friends' efforts a little pub. Have we got a deal for you. HardC.O.R.E.'s review section isn't just for the major labels. We don't even GET anything from major labels. In fact, some of us would much rather review what the independent folks are making, since they aren't affected by the A&R and high level decisions of major labels. So we want to hear what you guys are making. A few groups are getting their demos reviewed here among the likes of Gangstarr, Heavy D. and the Boys, Terminator X and Arrested Development. Who knows? You might even hear bigger and better things from The Mo'Fessionals, DOA, Raw Produce, and Union of Authority before you know it. With all the people subscribing to HardCORE (not to mention the number of people reading HardCORE via FTP and Gopher), you never know who might want to hear your music. Give us a shout. You can e-mail me at dwarner@cybernetics.net or Flash at juonstevenja@bvc.edu, and we'll let you know where you can send your tape. Keep in mind that we're pretty honest with our reviews (if we think your shit is wack, we'll say so to your face), but if you think you got what it takes, you'll see a review from us before you know it. All you have to lose is a tape, right? L8A... David J. Section 2 -- TWO ***A*** Charles Isbell -------------- Yep, yep! Once again, it's that time of the year! For those of you who haven't been around: A while back, everyone on alt.rap and the funky-music mailing list was bitchin' about how lame the Grammy's were in general, and especially how weak they were when it came to rap and hip-hop. Thus was born the New Jack Hip Hop Awards. In *this* awards thang, *you* get to decide the best stuff over the last year. You get to nominate. You get to vote. You can't blame the Grammy's or the American Music Awards. If your favorite didn't get nominated or voted a winner and you didn't take your chance to nominate or vote, well, that's your fault, isn't it? Here's the scoop: November: The categories from last year are posted and if anyone has any bright ideas or suggestions for new categories (or reasons to get rid of or replace old ones), e-mail them to me. Anyone who wants to help count should volunteer their services (please!). December: With the categories decided, I post a nomination form. This'll happen the first time around the week of the 14th (the first Wednesday before the 14th if it falls on any day but a Tuesday and the 15th if it does fall on a Wednesday). In any and all categories, you may nominate up to three people. Nomination forms must be e-mailed to *me* and you must follow directions exactly. I'll post the form every week and, yes, I know that people go away for holidays. That's why the nomination period is so long. January: With the finalists determined, I post the voting form. Pick your winners and send them to me. February: I post the results. Now during any of this, postings to wherever this message appears is fine, if you care to argue your case or whatever. Anyway, I'll be posting official rules (to alt.rap) and all that very soon (over and over again)... so start thinking about it. Below, I'm including the proposed categories for this year. They are the same as last year except that they include three new awards (I'll let you discover what those are). So, if has any bright ideas or suggestions for new categories (or reasons to get rid of or replace old ones), e-mail them to me. Also, anyone who wants to help count should volunteer! Please! "Who gives a fuck about a goddamned Grammy?" ----- ====----> Progressive/Jazz Rap Groups like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest (and in fact the whole Native Tongue Family), as well as Souls of Mischief, Digable Planets and the like fall into this class. Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Group Phattest Progressive/Jazz Male Rapper Phattest Progressive/Jazz Female Rapper Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Single Phattest Progressive/Jazz Rap Album ====----> Political Hip-Hop I think this is pretty obvious. Rap with an explicit social and/or political message. Phattest Political Group Phattest Political Male Rapper Phattest Political Female Rapper Phattest Political Rap Single Phattest Political Rap Album ====----> Gangsta Hip-Hop Well, this is everyone from Ice Cube to Geto Boys to Ice T to Snoop and back. Use your judgment. Phattest Gangsta Group Phattest Gangsta Male Rapper Phattest Gangsta Female Rapper Phattest Gangsta Rap Single Phattest Gangsta Rap Album ====----> Braggadocio Rappin' for your ego rappers go here. Say hi to everyone from Souls of Mischief to Chubb Rock to Das EFX. Phattest Braggadocio Group Phattest Braggadocio Male Rapper Phattest Braggadocio Female Rapper Phattest Braggadocio Rap Single Phattest Braggadocio Rap Album ====----> Nasty rap Nasty to be nasty. Overlaps a bit with some gangsta rappers. Phattest Nasty Group Phattest Nasty Male Rapper Phattest Nasty Female Rapper Phattest Nasty Rap Single Phattest Nasty Rap Album ====----> Crossover Rap This is not to be confused with hip-pop like Vanilla Ice Cream Cone. This is the rap that really "crosses" to other genres, be they R&B, reggae, hard rock or even pop while actually remaining both good *and* true to hip hop. As time goes on, some of these may spin off into their own subawards (see Progressive/Jazz). Phattest Crossover Group Phattest Crossover Male Rapper Phattest Crossover Female Rapper Phattest Crossover Rap Single Phattest Crossover Rap Album ====----> The Dope Thangs Funniest Rap Include the artist and the single. Phattest Lyric Slammin' music is not required. Both individual rappers and groups may apply. Include the artist and the single. Most Slammin' Beat Dope lyrics are not required. Both individual rappers and groups may apply. Include the artist and the single. Phattest DJ It's not a lost art yet. Include the album or EP. Phattest Producer(s) Include the album or EP. ====----> More Dope Thangs Leaders of the New School Award for the most innovative rapper/group this year. Doesn't have to be someone new, might be an old dog learning and teaching some new tricks. In any case, should take hip hop in a new direction. The folks starting the new subgenres. Include album or EP. Best fusion of Hip-Hop with non-Hip-Hop Being the experimenters that they are, Hip-Hop artists are often trying to merge their styles with stuff from other genres, be it heavy metal, jazz or country. Who did the best thing this year? Include single, album or EP. Phattest Non-USA Artist Often, we in the USA never get exposure to the phat macks outside the border. Those of you lucky to have done so should open our eyes by noting the artist and his or her single, album or EP. Phattest Reggae Hip Hop artist 'Nuff respect to all dancehall massive and crew. Question: who ruled the dancehall this year? Include single, album or EP. Provider of Phattest Samples Everyone from James Brown to The Gap Band to Chick Corea have been so kind as to provide hip hop with dope samples. Who's provided the best stuff *this year*? All we require is a name, but we'll give you extra props if you can name actual singles. Most Innovative Use of a Sample Award for the artist who used a sample (be it music, voice or whatever) in the most innovative or unexpected way to great effect. May be as simple as managing to sample the Partridge Family and making it funky or holding album-long conversations with Bert & Ernie. Note the artist, the single/album/EP and a reason for the award. ====----> Dope Videos and Other Visual Stuff Phattest Short Form Video Award for the Phattest video. Include artist and single. Phattest Long Form Video Award for the Phattest long form video release. Include artist and name of videotape. Phattest Hip Hop Video Show Best show, syndicated or otherwise, about Hip Hop. Include the VeeJay(s) as well as the name of the show. Best live performance/tour/live album Include name of tour or performance or live album/EP. ====----> Whackness and former whackness Biggest Sellout For the suckas that go pop. Should have been at least vaguely hip-hop in the first place. Include album, EP, single or whatever. Whackest Rapper The weakest, but visible, whackster of the year. Include album, EP, single or whatever. Biggest Disappointment This is different than the biggest sellout. Sometimes old favorites just plain fall off without even getting the money for selling out. Who fell flat this year? Include album, EP or single. Most Overrated Rapper Yet another bit of semantic subtlety. Now there are whack rappers in hip-pop and we know who they are. But sometimes we get rappers who produce a strong split in The Underground. Who do *you* think gets all these mad props but shouldn't? Well? Include album, EP or single. Best Comeback On the good side, sometimes folks we had written off as dead, come back like hard. Note that here. Include single or album or EP. Hardest and Ugliest Dis' Award for *the* hardest most diggum-smack dis of the year--the one that made you screw up your face and go "damn!" Include the artist and the single. ====----> What you've been waiting for Most Unfairly Slept On Album Ever year some artist comes off proper but is ignored by the community. Here we may remedy that. Phattest New Hip Hopster The best New Jack to arrive on the scene this year. Include the album or EP. Hall of Fame Award for that person or persons who managed to make hip hop history and have stood the test of time. Put on your history caps for this one. We're talking about those back in the day who helped make our current dopeness possible. Note: Public Enemy, Run-DMC and KRS-One/Boogie Down Productions, our 1991-1993 winners, are *ineligible* this year. Album Hall of Fame Award for that album that has managed to make hip hop history and has stood the test of time. This is for *the* best and most influential hip hop albums *ever*. So, act like you know. Phattest Rap Single The Phattest single to drop this year. Period. Phattest Rap Album The Phattest album to drop this year. Period. ====----> And that's it. ***B*** Fredrik Lundholm ---------------- THE SAGA CONTINUES... . IN DEFENSE OF COMPACT DISCS . A rebuttal of David J's column, "The CD Counter-Revolution." . . . Ease of song selection: . . 1. CD . 2. vinyl . 3. cassette . . With compact discs, you can start at any song on the disc you .want. Most radio stations have professional CD machines that will .auto-cue your songs, and allow you to do editing tricks. With vinyl, .you have much the same benefits, minus only a slightly lesser musical ------------- .quality. Tapes just outright SUCK. Who wants to rewind and ------- Are you crazy?? Am I crazy?? Vinyl has superior sound quality!! Must be your turntables and pre-amps.. . Ease of song manipulation: . . 1. vinyl . 2. CD . 3. cassette . . Obviously, you can't do scratching with a CD or a cassette. .CD's do allow you to pinpoint specific parts of a song easily though, How do you find that mellow part, three minutes in the song using CD? With a turntable you just put the needle there in an instant, on a CD you have to FF like a looser, even on "DJ" CD-players. . Cost of production: . . 1. CD . 2. cassette . 3. vinyl . . Here is where the hip-hop nation benefits most from CDs. .Harry Allen said it best on his new P.E. track, traveling down the .interactive highway. :> Compact discs are cheap to produce, and the .equipment to produce music is moving away from corporate control and .into the hands of the masses. This can only benefit us. Music .distribution and production becomes decentralized, and the hip-hop .nation bumrushes the system. Cassettes are cheap but shitty, and .vinyl is expensive. Well to produce a CD-UMATIC master tape with time coding and the actual CD-master is very expensive. Could never be done 'at home'.. A vinyl-master is much cheaper. Vinyl is only expensive because they are just not made in the same numbers as CD's, of course making a nice record sleeve becomes expensive if you only print 1,000 copies. Make 1,000,000 and it's a different case! . Obviously we need to continue to support vinyl as a vital part .of hip-hop music, but that doesn't mean we have to beat up on the CD. .As a DJ they are fabulous for me. I can mix back and forth between .CDs and records with the greatest of ease. Perhaps we should learn to .work with both technologies instead of trying to put them at war. Well, CD's need not to be defended. My $0.02... ***C*** Stephanie R. McNeal ------------------- COCA-COLA AND HIP-HOP -- COMMERCIALLY YOURS Though pop culturists and journalists alike have battled verbally over whether or not the components of the hip-hop genre can be defined as a "culture", there appears to be an overwhelming emphasis on this artistic sensibility in today's advertising. And the folks at Coca-Cola seem to have jumped on this bandwagon even more than sneaker or denim clothing manufacturers have. Remember back in the day when Coke liked to teach the world to sing? Or when Sprite was the soda that gave you that refreshing twist of "lymon"? Well, I guess that urban teenagers proved to be a much better target audience than baby-boomers, at least in the last 2 years. Sure, the older crowd and babies still get that warm, fuzzy feeling from the Coca-Cola polar bears, but we are now being inundated with hip-hop beats, ethnic fabric prints, and street slang in the latest attempt to rekindle our obsession with the Coke soda pop dynasty. But there are no gangstas in this utopian rap-flavored world. We've had the pop crossover personalities of Kris Kross, Heavy D, and A Tribe Called Quest liking the Sprite in us and telling us to obey our thirst. We've had rapidly flashing swatches of kente in the backdrop of that familiar red & white logo. We've been given a "phat and all that" plastic 20-oz. twist on the old familiar "real thing" green glass 16-oz. bottle. And Coke is riding the jeep-beats all the way to the bank. Those of us who truly love hip-hop in its rawest incarnations should question its use in the marketing of products to our generation. Rap wasn't started or developed to be trendy. Hip-hop was created to be an outlet from the creative stagnancy of popular music, to challenge norms and to encompass a different aesthetic. Do we really want companies like Coca-Cola making the appeal of hip-hop comparable to the "pop" it sells? ***D*** Steven J Juon ------------- JERU THE HYPOCRITE According to a recent issue of RapPages (Arrested Development on the cover), Jeru the Damaja beat down a reporter for an unfavorable review and threatened another. Considering this is a man we view as a "prophet", I am deeply disturbed... more so than I ever was by KRS- One's understandable if misinformed beatdown of Prince Be. Further, this message I received from Chad Scoville (scovic@rpi.edu) only seemed to confirm my worst fears. Here's a sample... -------------- I saw Jeru at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [a few] weeks ago. Before going, I was pumped to finally sample in the flesh one of the dopest lyricists to hit this year. I was deeply disappointed... Not only was Jeru wack, meaning he COULDN'T keep the crowd up, but something else happened in response to one of his comments to the crowd. Nearing the end of his set, a fight broke out right in front of center stage. Now, the intro to "Come Clean" has just begun, and every one was getting into it. In response to everyone flippin and breakin, Jeru tries to get the crowd to chill, by saying "Instead of killin a brother, kill a devil." Quickly after realizing what he said, Jeru remarked "Naw, I mean flip a devil." -------------- As Chad himself said, I don't really know what to think. Obviously Jeru had a reason for retracting that statement after saying it. I have no problem if he was going to preach a hardcore devil- stance in his lyrics and actions, but it seems that's how he FEELS even if that's not what he SAYS. These hypocritical actions and statements are really starting to weigh heavy on the brother, and I think it's time Jeru took a little of his advice -- he needs to come clean. ***E*** David J. -------- DIGGING UP THE ROOTS With a single blowing up stateside, an EP getting good pub in Europe, and an authentic hip hop sound that most live bands still haven't been able to duplicate, The Roots have made much noise with their "organically grown hip hop" sound. Some of it has to do with the slick production of B.R.O.TheR.? (pronounced "Brother Question"), but even more credit goes to the funky lyrical flavors of Mr. Black Thought and Malik B., two MC's bound and determined to put the city of Philadelphia on the map for real. I got the chance to chat with the Roots one night at WXDU 88.7 FM, Duke University's student radio station, where DJ Mike Nice and the Madman invited them in for a chat and a freestyle session. I managed to sneak in a few questions of my own on the side when the rest of the interview dropped off... MadMan (DJ): Introduce yourselves to the people out there who don't know you guys. Black Thought: Well, The Roots are a hip hop band, you know what I'm sayin'? A live hip hop band, and we represent from the city of Philadelphia. We're comprised of two vocalists, myself, Mr. Black Thought, my man Malik B. right here, and on drums, bass and keys, we got local percussionists working with the group and my man right here, the Godfather of Noise. Our album is coming out the 25th of (October), and it's called "Do You Want More?" We've got the phat single out now. Malik B.: Yeah, "Distortion to Static" is the single, and it's about how we laugh at all the wack MC's. Mike Nice (DJ): Yeah, so who are your mentors? Who do you follow behind in this? I know your style is a little different from everybody else, so... BT: I mean, basically Me and Malik, like, lyrically we try to stay from, y'know what I'm sayin', followin' behind anybody else's traits or somebody else's style, know what I mean? We are highly influenced by all the other lyricists that came through the industry and some that aren't even around anymore, y'know what I'm sayin'? Everybody influences you, either in a good way or in a bad way. So we take all of that into what everybody else is doin', but as far as comprising a style, we kind of block it out. MN: These brothers are definitely representin' Philadelphia here... David J.: Check it out, though, you guys mentioned a lot about London on that promo EP of yours. What's the connection there? BT: The EP that my man in the background is speakin' about is an EP which is called "From The Ground Up," which is in U.K. record stores now on a division of Polygram called Talkin' Loud Records. That's a record that we were doing on that label at the same time that we were doing this record here in the States on Geffen. It was specifically for the U.K., so that's why we mentioned London, plus we lived in London for a short period, like from the end of the spring to almost this entire summer. Madman: So what's the scene like over there, y'all being American artists and all that? BT: They're real appreciative of music over there, y'know what I'm sayin'? They're real appreciative because the music's from the U.S. and it's foreign to them, so they just accept whatever the States put out as the format. DJ: So is the stuff that's on the EP going to be on "Do You Want More?" as well? BT: No, it's different material. There's a couple tunes -- like "Distortion" is on the EP, and "Dat Scat" is on the EP, and those tunes are on the album as well, but the album is like 17 tunes, and most of them are new tracks. Madman: We're about to jump into this single here, this is the B-Side called "The Lesson." Thanks for comin' out, guys. MN: Yeah, see you at the Pub. Get my drink on, yo... ***F*** Kymm Britton and Dee Philipp Binggeli ------------------------------------- SOUNDCHECKING WITH JUSTICE SYSTEM The infusion of live instruments into the sample-heavy world of hip hop continues to enliven the evolving art form of rap. Real guitars, real drums, real voices singing out over a relentless beat -- this is the future of hip hop, and no other band embodies this bold ideal better than Justice System, six (sometimes seven) musicians working together to create a unified rap flavor, invigorating a genre that all too often sounds mechanical and soulless. Quite a goal for six young men who grew up together in tiny Greenburgh, New York, forming Justice System some five years ago while still in high school. But one listen to the band's initial effort, Rooftop Soundcheck, proves that Justice System has created one of the liveliest and most exciting debut albums in recent memory, sounding like a clarion call to the rap community--wake up and dig the new flavor. Justice System's history begins at Woodland High School in Greenburgh, New York, where in 1990 rappers John "Jahbaz" Dawson and Tom "Folex" Foley hooked up with longtime friends Chris "Wizard C. Roc" Nordland and the brothers Alex ("Coz Boogie") and Eric ("Eric G.") Gopoian to form a band that, as Folex puts it, "would rely on real people making music and having something to say, and not hiding it behind DATs and samples." A year later, multi-instrumentalist Alex "Mo'Better Al" Auld came on board to add some spice to the mix and help with demos. The legendary Zulu Nation, a major influence, heard Justice System's tape and invited the fledgling band to open some of their shows, where the sextet was introduced to another hero: Afrika Bambaataa. By this time, Justice System was building a steady following in Manhattan's downtown club scene, playing sold-out shows at S.O.B.'s, The Grand and the New Music Cafe. MCA Records caught the buzz and promptly signed the band on to an exclusive contract. Thus Rooftop Soundcheck, was born with its moving tribute to their heroes, called "Dedication to Bambaataa." Says Jahbaz, "We were listening to people like Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Coltrane, Stevie Wonder and Bambaata, and we were affected by the spirituality in that music. But when we looked around and saw how many musicians these artists had influenced, and weren't getting their due, we wanted to correct the situation. Because it's artists like Bambaataa that set the foundation for all that was to follow." Key tracks from Rooftop Soundcheck, which was produced by Justice System with help from Eddie Martinez (guitarist for Chic, Patti LaBelle, Run D.M.C. and others), include "Soul Style," based on the Langston Hughes poem "Negro Speaks of Rivers," one of the best explorations of the creative process ever put on the record; "Summer in the City," the debut 12" and first video (which was shot at night on the streets of New York City); and "Trouble on My Mind," a song Folex calls "a breakdown of the last four years in the lifetime of Justice System. It tells how to watch out for sharks in this business, and how you have to keep your focus on the music and not get distracted by people who want to use you." But the element that sets Justice System apart from the rest of the hip hop pack is their strength as musicians. "It's all about takin' it to the stage," says Jahbaz. "You have to be able to do it live, and this is a real band which doesn't rely on pre-recorded technology to get its message across. So our sound is more organic and alive, and when Folex and I are rappin' over that soulful music behind us, the power is undeniable." And the power of the sample-free music of Rooftop Soundcheck is undeniable. One listen, and you'll stay for the show. ***G*** Russell A. Potter ----------------- ROOTS-N-RAP: The Last Poets When asked about the first rappers, knowledgeable hip-hop heads won't start talking about the Sugar Hill Gang. They know that the Last Poets were rapping over a beat back when Big Bank Hank was still in diapers. Yet, partly because of the vagaries of record distribution in the CD era, and partly because of the fast-forward amnesia fostered by the record industry, few people have actually heard the Last Poets, save for a few sampled snippets here and there ("Time is running out"). Complicating matters, the Last Poets' membership has varied greatly over the years, withrival groups at several points claiming the title of the "original" Last Poets; recent years have seen still more rifts between the surviving Poets. Yet despite this confusion, most of the Last Poets' output is readily available on CD -- if you're willing to take some time to track it down. Like other neglected Black artists, their music is actually better known in Europe, and even Japan, than it is in the U.S., and if you're willing to pay the premium for imports, and have a good used CD or vinyl shop in your neighborhood, it's possible to find almost everything the Last Poets recorded. But first, a little history... The Poets first got together in Harlem in 1969, as legend has it, at a celebration of Malcolm X's birthday in Mt. Morris park, creating what Ty Williams calls "a workshop of the mind." This original get-together led to further sessions at "East Wind," a loft located on 125th St. between Madison and Fifth Avenues, and a record contract with Alan Douglas (known as the producer of Hendrix's _Electric Ladyland_ LP). It was a time of potent Black nationalism, and the Black Arts were a major part of that scene; the Poets took their inspiration from poets like Imamu Amiri Baraka, musicians like Coltrane and Sun Ra, and political organizations like the Panthers and the NOI. They chose African-flavored jazz rhythms as their backup, rather than R&B, consciously rejecting (at least at first) mass-media "Black" culture. Theirs was a performance art, done on the spot at late-night sessions, improvising individually and collectively, trading words just as jazz musicians traded melodic ideas, repeating them with variations, coming together with multiple voices for the climax. Here's a small part of their seminal track, "Run, Nigger" (a.k.a. "Time is Running Out"): I understand that time is running out I understand that time is running out I understand that time is running out I understand that time is running out Running out as hastily as niggaz run from the Man Time is running out on our natural habits... Time is running out on lifeless serpents reigning over a living kingdom Time is running out of talks, marches tunes, chants, and all kinds of prayers Time ... is running out of time. I heard someone say things are CHANGING Chain ... chain chain CHANGING from Brown to Black, time is running out on bullshit changes! Running out like a bush fire in a dry forest Like a murderer from the scene of a crime Like a little roach from DDT ... Hanging out at East Wind in those days was Afrocentricity in action. Yet for reasons lost in obscurity, not all of the Poets who used to gather there made it into Douglas's recording sessions. Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain, and David Nelson -- all absent from the Douglas Records lineup -- went on to perform as the "Original Last Poets," and gained fame as the soundtrack artists for the film "Right On!" (1971). Kain went on to a solo project, "Blue Guerrilla," a sort of slice-of-life set piece which was the inspiration behind K.M.D.'s unreleased second album "Black Bastards" (a title taken from Kain's raps). Luciano's "Jazz" was something of a minor hit, and still brings back memories for those who heard it at the time: JAAAZZZZ, yeah, is a woman's tongue Stuck dead in your mouth, ya dig it? JAAAZZZZ, yeah, is a woman's tongue Stuck all in your mouth JAAAZZZZ, is a tongue, cool Lickin' ya slowly, revolving around your side, your cheeks Letting you know who's come to visit Or teasing and tickling you your teeth Buffing them 'till they shine-sparkle Or HOT, WET, like the black streets in El Barrio After a quick sun-shower ... Yet these Poets, even though they were there at the start, were eventually displaced by the Poets who recorded for Douglas, including Alafia Pudim (a.k.a. Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, a.k.a. Lightnin' Rod), Sulieman El-Hadi, Abiodun Oyewole, and Omar Ben Hassan (lately known as Umar Bin Hassan), along with percussionist Nilaja. These were the poets (minus Oyewole, who departed after the first album) who formed the core of *THE* Last Poets from the early 70's into the mid-80's, offering up a potent series of political and personal commentaries on everything from race relations to Ho Chi Minh to the birth control pill. Many of their early tracks are landmarks of poetic radicalism, and have been claimed by rappers as seminal influences: "Niggas Are Scared of Revolution" and "When the Revolution Comes" predate and prefigure Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"; "White Man's Got a God Complex" struck a potent satirical chord in 1971 (and again in 1994, with a cover by Flavor Flav on PE's new Muse Sick n Hour Mess Age album which features backup from Umar Bin Hassan). Still, perhaps because of their unusual polyrhythms, the Poets aren't sampled as often as they might be, though artists such as different as Yo Yo, A Tribe Called Quest, and Paris have looped lines from "Run, Nigger" on their recent albums. They also top many rappers' prop lists (right up there after God and Moms). Their influence is great, but it's more an influence on *attitude* than on the music itself. Yet while the Poets' early work may seem strangely unfunky to a 1994 hip-hop head, they also made interesting moves towards funk and hip-hop in the late 70's and early 80's. Pudim/Nuriddin, under the name "Lightnin' Rod," cut a wild track with Hendrix (Doriella Du Fontaine), and hooked up later on with Kool and the Gang and Eric Gale in 1973 to cut "Hustlers' Convention," which Nelson George calls "a moralistic blaxploitation film on record." Certainly listening to it today, it sounds in places like a catalog of outdated hustler cliches, but it also makes effective use of funk grooves, street noises, and sound effects in a way that brings to mind the better skits and interludes on hip-hop discs today. According to David Toop, "Hustlers' Convention" had a powerful street-level impact, and was used as a break record by some of the first hip-hop DJ's. Here are a few lines from the opening track, "Sport": It was a full moon, in the middle of June In the summer of '59 I was young and cool, And shot a *bad* game of pool And hustled all the chumps I could find ... Nuriddin was the one Poet who clearly paid attention to what was happening with rap; he put out a beat-box/synth track ("Long Enough") on Brooklyn's Kee Wee label in 1984, as well as a hip-hop remake of the Poets' "Mean Machine" with Grandmaster D.ST (the wizard behind the wheels in "Rockit") on Celluloid. Nuriddin was, and remains the funkiest of the Poets, as his new album with El-Hadi, "Scaterrap/Home" proves (see below). The careers of other Poets have been varied to say the least; aside from Nilaja (who died of a brain tumor in 1980), they have all carried on their artistry, though not always in public performances or records. Abiodun Oyewole, semi-retired since 1984's "Super Horror Show" on the Nia label, resurfaced to speak with Ice Cube in a _New York Times_ Magazine_ interview earlier this year. He's been teaching school and trying to instill pride in a new generation. While reluctant at first to recognize Cube's work as a continuation of his own, he came to respect him personally in the course of the interview. Towards the end, he tells Cube: "Rap has made itself a billion-dollar industry, and you and some other brothers are sitting at the top of the charts because of the simple reason that people have a need to express themselves and hear their own voice. And you have been that mirror, relecting a lot of the pain and joy they have felt. But the reality is, what we got to do is take all of that pain and joy and give it some direction so we can have a tomorrow. But not only for you -- for me, too, old as I am, I'm 40- plus. I still got to grow. And I've got to respect that your rebel spirit is the same rebel spirit I had." "Reality" rappers take note -- Oyewole has recently re-united with some of the other Poets to record a new album, "Holy Terror," released last year in Japan and just now available in the U.S. For better or worse, the Poets, like many Black artists, have enjoyed more honor abroad than at home; their albums are big sellers in Japan, and Japanese and European labels have been home to most of their post- Celluloid recordings. Umar Bin Hassan, who left the group in the mid-70's to pursue his ambitions as a playwright, also recently returned to the studio, working with Bill Laswell on a number of projects on the latter's AXIOM label, including a solo album, "Be Bop or Be Dead," which appeared last year. It features re-makes of some classic Poets jams ("Niggers Are Scared of Revolution," "This is Madness") as well as new cuts ("Bum Rush," "Personal Things"), and funky backup from AXIOM regulars Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins, Foday Musa Suso, and Aiyb Deng. El-Hadi and Nuriddin, for their part, express some bitterness about Laswell, Celluloid, and Axiom; after their props list on their current CD, they send out, "No thanks to Celluloid Wreckoids N.Y. & Bill Laswell of AXIOM Wreckoids and the past poets who copped out and dropped out while we (THE LAST POETS) held out." Still, word is that they are finally getting back together with Umar Bin Hassan and Laswell and are recording some sides in London (where Jalal now lives) for a new album. For now, the closest thing to hearing those recordings is Nuriddin and El-Hadi's current release, "Scatterap/Home." This album returns to the old questions of Time and Space -- the CD art features their two faces surrounded by the track numbers with Roman numerals like the face of a clock. The tracks, like this clock, are split down the middle; the "Scatterrap" half is primarily Jalal's, bring home funky flavor in a style reminiscent of late-70's Bambaataa as he encourages his listeners to "See," 'Hear," "Taste," "Touch," "Smell," and "Reason." The "Home" half is dominated by El- Hadi, who has a style closer to the older Poets releases; the best track, "Minority of One," drops some potent conscious rhymes over long- time Poets percussionist Abu Mustapha's congas. For too long, El-Hadi raps, the white man has been ...Hiding my story, making a mystery Showing himself and calling it history But we know where they're coming from Minority of one, under the shadow of the gun. Although they were hard or impossible to find for many years, most of the Last Poets' old LP's are now available on compact disc. There's no way to describe what it is the Poets did or do without listening to it, and these records are a vital part of hip-hop history and Black history in general. I've appended a discography of their most notable albums available on CD, as well as a more detailed LP discography by Jalal himself, transcribed by Culf from the European release of "Scatterrap/Home" (the U.S. release omits this discography). If you want to trace the roots of hip-hop, you owe it to yourself to check these out. ========= Last Poets -- Compact Disc Discography The Last Poets (a) The Last Poets (1970) Celluloid Records CEL 6101 The Last Poets This Is Madness (1971) Celluloid Records CEL 6105 Original Last Poets * Right On! (1971) Collectibles COL-CD-6500 Gylan Kain Blue Guerilla Collectibles COL-CD-6501 The Last Poets Chastisement (1972) Celluloid Lightnin' Rod Hustlers Convention (1973) Oceana/Celluloid 4107-2 The Last Poets At Last (1974) Celluloid The Last Poets Delights of the Garden (1976) Celluloid CEL 6136 The Last Poets Jazzoetry (1976)+ Celluloid The Last Poets Oh! My People (1984) Celluloid Jalal & Grandmaster Mean Machine (12") Celluloid CELD 6205** The Last Poets Freedom Express (1988) Celluloid The Last Poets Retrofit (1992)++ Celluloid CELD 6208 The Last Poets One (1993) Celluloid Umar Bin Hassan Be Bop or Be Dead (1993)AXIOM 314-518 048-2 The Last Poets Holy Terror (1993) P-Vine 2499 (Japan) The Last Poets Scatterap/Home (1994) Bond Age BRCD 9471 *= Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain, David Nelson ** The 12" is available on this Celluloid CD, "Roots of Rap Volume 1" +Jalal's discography lists this as a 1971 release; I don't have a copy & so can't confirm the date. ++ A remix album -- very funky, but probably part of the reason some of the Poets are so angry at Celluloid; also contains a remix of "Doriella DuFontaine." Where I have a copy, or catalog info., I list the CD catalog number; otherwise I can only say that the disc appears on other lists as having been available on CD. I also have not yet received the import copy of "Holy Terror" I ordered a few weeks ago, and so have no detailed information as to who (aside from Oyewole) participated in that recording. Anyone having more information on the Poets on CD or vinyl, please send your info to rapotter@colby.edu; I hope to compile a more thorough discography, to be posted at net sites such as JazzNet or the cs.uwp.edu archive. ======== Last Poets Discography -- by Jalal 1. The Last Poets / Self titled / Recorded April 1969 at Impact Sound Studios n.y.c. Released in April of 1970 The Last Poets album sells over a million copies by word of mouth and thus put "Rap" on the map. Produced by Alan Douglas & The Last Poets & East Wind Associates. Poets: Abiodun Oyewole, Alafia Pudim (a.k.a. Jalal Mansur Nuriddin), Omar Bin Hassan Percussion: Nilaja Engineer: Danfort Driffith 2. "This Is Madness" The Last Poets. Recorded 1971 at Media Sound Studios n.y.c. Producers: Alan Douglas & Stefan Bright Cover painting: Abdul Mati (based on a photograph by Bilal Farid) Engineer: Tony Bongiovi Poets: Alafia Pudim (a.k.a. Jalal Mansur Nuriddin) & Omar Bin Hassan Percussion: Nilaja 3. "Chastisement" The Last Poets 1972-73. Recorded at Media Sound Studios n.y.c. Produced by The Last Poets & Stefan Bright Poets: Jalal Mansur Nuriddin & Sulieman El-Hadi Percussion: Nilaja, Omanyaki, B, Jalal Vocals: Oluiyi/Ann Saxophonist: Sam Harkness Bass: Jox Hall Engineer: Tony Bonjovi Cover Art: Jim Wipox Photographer: Edmund (Majur) Wartkixs 4. "At Last" The Last Poets 1974 Produced by The Last Poets. Poets: Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, Sulieman El-Hadi, Omar Bin Hassan Musicians: Tenor sax: Brother Juice Alto sax: Claude Laurence Piano: Casa Burak Drums: Philip King Bass: Duke Cleamons Recorded in a fire house Studio, lower eastside, n.y.c. 5. "Delights Of The Garden" 1976 Recorded at Media Sound Studios n.y.c. & Sound Ideas Studio n.y.c. Produced by Alan Douglas & The Last Poets Mastering: Joe Gastuirt, Masterdisk Studios n.y.c. Cover Art: Abrahim Ben Benu Photographs: Peter Harron Art Director: Frank Guana Chief engineer: Cron St Germaine Poets: Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, Sulieman El-Hadi Musicians: Bass & Guitar: Mann Bass: Alex Blake Drums: Bernard Perdie Conga: Aby Mustapha Percussion: Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, Sulieman El-Hadi, Abu Mustapha 6. "Oh My People" The Last Poets 1984 Produced by Bill Laswell Recorded at Evergreen Studios and mixed at RPM by Rob Stevens Asst Engineer: Hank Rowe Cover Design: Thi Linh Le Group photo: Stephen Critchlow Poets: Sulieman El-Hadi, Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin Musicians: Bernie Worrell Synthesizer: Ayiele Dieng, Chatan Cowbell, Bill Laswell/DMX AMS Musicians: Jamal, Abdus Sabor/Bass, Ayiel Dieng/Talking Drums/Congas, Kenyatte Abdur/Rakman/Congas, Philip Wilson/Cymbals/Percussion 7. "Freedom Express" The Last Poets 1988 Produced by: The Last Poets Recorded at Brent Black Music Co-Op Willesdex, England Poets: Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, Sulienman El-Hadi Musicians: Abu Mustapha/Congas Sulieman El-Hadi/Congas Kenyatta Abdur-Rahman/Congas Wx7/Linwood 5000 + Drums Jamal Abdus Sabor/Bass Dave Lugay/Bass Curtis Lugay Memphis/Lead guitar Engineered by Sid Bucknor Ray Brown Arranged by Kenyatte Abdur-Rahman Mixed by Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin SINGLES O'D/Black Thighs 1970 Poets: Jalal/Omar Percussion: Nilaja Organ: Buddy Miles "Long Enough" Last Poets 1981 - Jalal & Sulieman "Stella Marina" 1984 Working Week, Jalal "Mean Machine" 1984 Jalal & D.S.T. "Mean Machine" 1990-91 Jalal & Lugman OTHERS ALBUMS "Doriella du Fontaine" 1969 Recorded at Electric Lady Land n.y.c. 12 mix approx. Lightnin'Rod (a.k.a.Jalal, leader of Last Poets) & Jimi Hendrix Lightinin'Rod/Jalal Vocals: Jimi Hendrix/lead (Guitar/Bass) Buddy Miles/Drums Released in 1984 as 12" Duck single on the Criminal Label Celluloid N.Y. (sell-you-into-Avoid-Paying you royalties) Produced by Alan Douglas "Jazzoetry" Compilation 1971 Jalal & Omar "Hustler's Convention" 1973 Lightnin'Rod a.k.a./Jalal leader of The Last Poets Kool & The Gang Gene Dinwoodie King Curtis Billy Preston Eric Gale Cornel Dupree Tina Turner & Ikettes Produced by Alan Douglas Recorded and mastered at Media Sound W. 57th St N.Y.C. Discography written by Jalauddin Mansur Nuriddin Transcribed by Culf ***H*** David J. -------- YAGGFU FRONT LEAVES MERCURY RECORDS Raleigh, North Carolina's Yaggfu Front, who first hit the hip hop scene last year with the singles "Looking For A Contract" and "Busted Loop," have left Mercury and are currently searching for a new record deal, according to the group's DJ Assassin. "We had to step from Mercury because we couldn't agree on terms as far as pushing our products," Assassin said. "So now we're just trying to find a label that's really trying to back us and really trying to help us do what we want to do with our music." Yaggfu Front's LP, "Action Packed Adventure," which received a pH Level of 5 in HardCORE, didn't get enough attention from Mercury and lagged in sales as a result, according to Assassin. The group is currently shopping both the album and its latest demo to several labels. "Right now, we're talking to Geffen, Delicious (Vinyl)...we got a whole slew," Assassin said, "but we don't want to say, really, or commit to anything. We want to keep things open until we're ready to do whatever." The group is looking for a label that's willing to understand and promote the group's style, which is at time comic and different from nearly any other group on the scene. Assassin feels they're more ready to deal with labels because of the experience they had with Mercury. "It's a lot different from back then. We're a lot older, and we have more experience with that than we had back then." ***I*** Martin Kelley ------------- THE ATLANTA SCENE Atlanta has been kinda mellow this summer compared to the usual. Jack the Rapper was held in Orlando instead of here, and we've only had a couple of shows come to town. A Tribe Called Quest came through while touring with the Lollapalooza '94 caravan, and they did another show just for the heads down at the Warehouse. I wish I could say that it was a good show, but there were those out to prove they were roughnecks and that tarnished the evening (a couple bucks, a couple casualties, 'nuff said). The Gravediggaz held a release party at the Masquerade that was sponsored by WRAS 88.5 FM's Rhythm & Vibes and Tha Bomb shows along with Polygram (props to Don and Dave). It wasn't exactly the bomb party but it was free, so you can only complain so much. As for record release news, Ichiban has given Kwame a new opportunity with his new album "Incognito". Conquest records is planning to release a new SnoMan LP and the debut album from Layel of Nexx Phase (check Marley Marl's "In Control Vol. 2"). Congratulations to boy wonder -- it's been a long time for this kid. Reign of Terror is close to inking a deal with Straight to the Bottom records (based in Miami). Kaper/RCA is trying again with kid rappers K.R.O.N.I.C. by releasing a new EP and single "Summertime". Local independent label Ogana records has released the single "Nigerian Rhyme Shoota" from Doomsday, as they try to fuse hardcore rap and Nigerian styles. In the rumor mill, I have been hearing that some members of a local hip-hop group (you've heard of them too) have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble. I'll let you know who if I can confirm the story. On the lighter side, I met a white GZA (from Wu-Tang) impersonator. It was a definite trip, I couldn't believe that I kept a straight face as he explained how he was in the Wu-Tang (come to think of it, I can't believe *he* kept a straight face). Anyway, peace... ***J*** Steven J Juon ------------- FLASH'S VIDEO REVIEW Beastie Boys, "Sure Shot" pH Level - 2 Sabotage this ain't. In fact despite being a great song it's a lousy video. Their lips are not in sync with the lyrics more than half of the time, and the flips between playgrounds/pools and pimps in tuxedos does nothing for me. Play like Pharcyde and Pass It By. Big Joe Krash (KRS-One), "Break the Chain" pH Level - 4 Whatever words Krash's mouth are forming during the chorus, they AREN'T the chorus cause they AREN'T in sync. His lips move on and on and on and... it's painfully obvious. Nuff respect to Kyle Baker for the phat drawing style and Lawrence Parker for the lyrics, but this looks like a rush job. Black Sheep, "Without a Doubt" pH Level - 5 Interesting video that comes off playful without being silly. It has some cool funhouse camera angles as they roll down the ave. and doors that lead directly from the party to the street (interesting allusion that). Also, the room where Dres lounges in a chair seems to be flying through space. This jammie comes off totally 180 degrees from the tightly plotted and shot "Similak Child" video, and it's a nice change-up. Brand Nubian, "Word Is Bond" pH Level - 4 What's up with Lord Jamar's hair? Short at the beginning, long dreads in the middle, short at the end! Are they tied up in a bun at the back of his head? Anyway, it's a cool-out party song and video, and as far as I'm concerned this one is in there. Craig Mack, "Flava In Ya Ear" pH Level - 6 Regardless of how you feel about his flow, the two Craig's (Craig Henry directing) have hooked up a video which is NICE! Despite numerous quick cuts between locations, Craig is always in sync. Very cool lighting effects (nuff respect to the cinematographer) that create beams of anti-matter and surreal urban worlds. Like the planet behind him and the buildings around him, Craig Mack is larger than life in this video. The camera angle they use when Craig shovels graves would make my film professor proud and the Ryzarector jealous! The one belongs in the archive of all time classic hip-hop videos, NO CONTEST. Da Bush Babees, "We Run Things" pH Level - 4 Is this the Hamptons? Wherever they are, it looks like a quiet suburban park to me, very removed from your typical rap video ghetto backdrop. Good, lush green colors set the tone and accentuate this well laid out video. Not much plot here, but who needs it? Da Youngstas, "Hip Hop Ride" pH Level - 3 Considering that I freeze my ass off this time of year when I walk outdoors, this video seems a lil too late for summer. Yet there they are, macking at the pool to a disproportional amount of thinly clad sepia-toned honies. Just a quick check here -- who the HELL are they pointing the camera at when they mention Monie Love? That's NOT her but that's what they make it look like. Despite these flaws (especially the overuse of skinz) it's a decent cool-out party video. Digable Planets, "9th Wonder" pH Level - 5 Somebody tell me how the HELL they made this video pop scratch and flick like an 8th grade science film, cause I love it! Hard to believe that the DP's could walk around New York (and Myrtle Ave.) without being noticed, but I guess they are "Cool Like Dat". The old man is cool, too. His sun glasses reflecting the world around him and hiding the inner depths of time and space his soul must hold. A definite pHat video. Fu-Schnickens, "Breakdown" pH Level - 6 Now THIS is how it should be done. A good video should build on a theme created by the song and translate it into three-dimensional reality. So in this joint, they catch wreck like the wrecking balls they swing around on. You can almost feel the walls at this abandoned construction (or deconstruction) site shaking down as the funk track blasts. Not to mention ANY video that can stay in sync with Chip-Fu gets props. Ill Al Skratch, "I'll Take Her" pH Level - 5 While Brian McKnight croons in the studio, Al Skratch cruises and Big Ill pounds the pavement. Classic moment is when Ill catches the eye of a girl -- while exchanging pounds with her boyfriend! As Ill walks away her gaze trails longingly after, the boyfriend starts riffing, and she tells him to SHOVE IT. Better treat them ladies right fellaz, cause Ill Al Skratch is on the creep in your neighborhood. O.C., "Time's Up" pH Level - 6 "Do not adjust your TV set," because it's about to be ON. Until now, there has been nothing quite like Jeru's intense video for "Come Clean." Well, here it is. Heads nod in the cipher, and O.C. steps out of the shadows into the spotlight (VERY APPROPRIATE). Great shots of the DJ spinning wax, and good sparing use of the occasional prop (sucker MC, floating dollar bills, etc). And how can you NOT love the cameo clip of Slick Rick? This video is PURE BUTTER. Pete Rock and CL Smooth, "I Got a Love" pH Level - 6 Journey with the Chocolate Boy Wonder and the Mecca Don from Babylon back to the lush tropical green of Jamaica, one of the birthplaces of hip-hop. Cool contrast between black and white clips and color clips in this video. Because of the letterbox format (the cropping at the top and bottom of the screen), it would seem to have been shot originally in a wide-screen movie format. If it looks this good on my shitty old TV, I'd like to see how it looks on the big screen, for real. Rappin 4-Tay, "Playaz Club" pH Level - 4 Yes the video has some fine women, but they are also well attired and seem to be part of the environment, not just inflatable props. In fact, to me this song and video seems to be the epitome of being a playa -- fly suits and fine girls who aren't skeezers. Nuff respect for these players. Sir Mix-a-Lot, "Ride" pH Level - 2 Mix, I love you like a homie but those furs you wear have GOT to go. And why did you make a video for THIS wack song? This HYPER- sexed futuristic-fashioned (and FASHION) video does NUTTIN for me. Nuff said. Wu-Tang Clan, "Can It All Be So Simple" pH Level - 5 A quiet, introspective video that presents pictures and lets you draw your own conclusions. Some clips look like the lap of luxury, and some look like back in the day, but is there any difference? Or can it be that it WAS all so simple then... ***K*** O.C. ---- "Time's Up" (transcribed by Flash) Verse One: You lack the minerals and vitamins Irons and the niacins Fuck who that I offend rappers sit back I'm about to begin bout foul-talking squawk Never even walked the walk More/less destined to get tested never been arrested My album will manifest many things that I saw did or heard about or told first-hand, never word of mouth What's in the future for the fusion in the changer rappers are in danger, who will use wits to be a remainder When the missile is aimed, to blow you out of the frame Some will keep their limbs in, some will be maimed The same suckers with the gab about killer instincts but turned bitch and knowin damn well they lack In this division, the connoisseur Crackin your head with a four by four Realize sucka, I be the comer like Noah always sendin you down, perpetratin facadin what you consider an image To me, this is just a scrimmage I feel I'm stone Not cause about throwin my cap cocked The more emotion I put in to it, the harder I rock Those who pose lyrical, but really ain't true I feel *Their time's limited, hard rocks too* (Slick Rick) Verse Two: Speakin in tongues About what you did but you never done And admit it you bit it cause the next man came platinum Behind it, I find it ironic So I researched and analyzed Most write about stuff they fantasize I'm fed up with the bull on this focus of weeded clips and glocks gettin cocked And wax not being flipped It's the same ol', same ol', just strainin from the anal the contact, is not complex to vex So why you pushin it? Why you lyin for I know where you live I know your folks, you was a sucka as a kid Your persona's drama, that you acquired in high school in acting class Your whole aura is Plexiglas What's her face told me you shot this kid last week in the park that's a lie, you was in church with your moms See I know, yo, slow your roll, give a good to go Guys be lackin in this thing called rappin just for dough Of course we gotta pay rent, so money connects But uh, I'd rather be broke and have a whole lot of respect It's the principle of it, I get a rush when I bust some dope lines on roll, that maybe somebody will quote That's what I consider real, in this field of music Instead of putting brain cells to work they abuse it Non-conceptual, non-exceptional Everybody's either crime related or sexual! I'm here to make a difference Besides all the riffin the tracks are not stickin Rappers, stop flippin For those who pose lyrical but really ain't true I feel *Their time's limited, hard rocks too* ***L*** Charles Isbell -------------- Damn. This time: _Genocide and Juice_ by The Coup Next time: _Blowout Comb_ by Digable Planets _Zingalamaduni_ by Arrested Development _Black Business_ by Poor Righteous Teachers Last time: _Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age_ by Public Enemy _Illmatic_ by Nas _Hard To Earn_ by Gang Starr _Be Bop or Be Dead_ by Umar Bin Hassan Catch Ups: _Tricks of The Shade_ by The Goats _Enta Da Wu Tang (36 Chambers)_ by Wu Tang Clan _Cypress Hill_ by Cypress Hill -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Distinctiveness: Oh, that's for sure. Dopeness Rating: Oh my god (is it real?). Phat+. Rap Part: I admit it. I'm jockin'. Phat+ Sounds: I'm still jockin'. Phat+ Predictions: If there is any justice in the world they'll go triple platinum. Rotation Weight: Oh, just on and on. Message: Um. Why, yes, as a matter of fact. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tracks: 14 at 52:38 Label: Wild Pitch Producers: Boots for the Mau Mau Collective Profanity: Here a motherf*cker. There a motherf*cker. Every which where a motherf*cker. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Fall Hip Hop season has begun with The Coup. The Coup is: Boots, E-Roc and Pam The Funktress. The complete complement of musicians is Moose Patterson on keyboards; Charles Stella and Caz on guitar; Elijah Baker and Keith MacArthur on bass guitar; Jeff Chambers on Stand-Up Bass; Raymond Riley on drums; The Sweet Meat Section on horns (John Middleton on trumpet, Mike Rinta on trombone and Carl Green on tenor sax); Renatta Archie on violin and viola; Alisha Calhoun and Lynn Sally on violin; with backing vocals by The Two Sisters, Tanya, Deon Jones, Anthony Tibbs, Jazz Lee Alston, Suga-T, E-Roc and Lalisa Johnson. The Coup is: stoopid mad phat. The Coup is: the group that had the best politically-minded album for last year with _Kill My Landlord_. The Coup is: even better this time around in 1994 with _Genocide and Juice_. The Coup is: my new favorite group. The Coup. I hear you asking "Who the f*ck are they?" Brother/sister, where have you *been*? The Coup is the group that released _Kill My Landlord_ last year. This was, without any doubt whatsoever in my mind, the best CD of last year and, for that matter, the best politically-minded album to drop in many, many years. Led by Boots and his incredible ear for a sharp lyric, they just tore sh*t up. And now they're back, busy proving the sophomore jinx to be little more than a silly superstition. And in some ways, they're even better than they were before. This time around they manage to pay a little bit more attention to the muzak behind their lyrical steak without compromising on that end at all. The result is an even stronger, more coherent vision... and a damn funky album all around. The Fall season is off to a good start. Let's get started. We open with "Intro (G-Nut Talks Sh*t From The Gut)," the obligatory introduction. Whatever. Not quite a minute later and we're into "Fat Cats, Bigga Fish." This is Boots at his best. Nice lyrics, serious flow and a truly FONKY beat. An even more impressive opening shot that "Dig It" was on _Kill My Landlord_. "And promenade out to take up a collection I got game like I read the directions" This time we follow the adventures of Boots-as-pickpocket as his normal day takes an odd turn. "The streetlight reflects off the piss on the ground which reflects off the hamburger sign that turns round which reflects off the chrome of the BMW which reflects off the fact that I'm broke Now what the f*ck is new?" "Didn't want to f*ck up the come up so I smiled, winked my eye, said 'Hey how's it hangin' guy?' Bumped into his shoulder but he passed with no reaction Damn, this motherf*cker had hella Andrew Jacksons" "Story just begun, but you already know And no need to get down... Sh*t I'm already low" After a funny adventure at Burger King, Boots meets his cousin and takes the opportunity to sneak into a ritzy party in order to make some quick bucks. Much to his surprise, he learns the true meaning of being a hustler... on a much grander scale then he'd ever imagined. "Fresh, dressed like a million bucks I be the flyest motherf*cker in an afro and a tux My arm is at a right angle up, silver tray in my hand 'May I interest you in some caviar, ma'am?' My eyes shoot 'round the room there and here noticin' the diamonds in the chandelier Background Barry Manilow, "Copa Cabana" and a strong-ass scent of stogie's from Havana" "Mr Coke said to Mr Mayor: 'You know we have a process like Ice-T's hair. We put up the funds for your election campaign and oh, um, waiter can you bring the champagne? Our real estate firm says opportunities arousing to make some condos out of low-income housing Immediately we need some media heat to say that gangs run the street and then we bring in the police fleet harass and beat everybody till they look inebriated when we buy the land motherf*ckers will appreciate it Don't worry about the Urban League or Jesse Jackson My man that owns Marlboro donated a fat sum.'" This flows quite naturally into the next track, "Pimps," starring David Rockefeller and John-Paul Getty showing off their ability to make their voices "like authentic rappers" over some funky strings (in this case, like Boots and E-Roc). Donald Trump even stops by to annoy everyone by doing his reggae imitation. "Well, if you're blind as Helen Keller you can see I'm David Rockefeller So much cash, up in my bathroom there's a Ready Teller" "Don't let me get my flex on Do some gangsta sh*t Make the army go to war for Exxon Long as the money flow, I'll be makin' dough Welcome to my little pimp school How you gonna beat me at this game? I made the rules" "'Why don't you rap for us?' 'No, no, no, no' 'Come on boy I did mine' 'It's so... tribal' 'Well, very well' 'Oh, goodie' 'But hold my martini... I have to do those hand gestures.'" Hee, hee. "Lay you out like linoleum floors I'm gettin' rich off petroleum wars controllin' you whores makin' you eat top rhymin' while I eat shrimp y'all motherf*ckers is simps I'm just a pimp" After The Trumpster drives everyone away, the track fades into "Takin' These," the current release from _Genocide and Juice_. "See, it's a family thing So don't even trip My cousin JD got the nine and my momma got the extra clip" This one comes off a bit too relaxed after the last two tracks, but gets a few extra props for subverting Disney favorite _1001 Dalmations_ with its right-on-time chorus (think hard and you'll know what I'm talking about). "And if you don't like it take two to the chin and show me to the kitchen 'cause my kids is gettin' thin See I don't have to talk sh*t about packin' a gat, in fact, you could get bucked by any other motherf*cker where I live at Hear that? Money here is crystal clear punk F*ck that fiscal year junk Meet the pistol grip pump Pistol grip, uh, meet Mr Rockefeller We finta take him out do him like Ol' Yeller" I like it. And E-Roc does a more-than-nice job on this track. "Now I know you got nailed And if my glock fails take a sip of this molotov cocktail" We continue the relaxed-but-busy musical theme "Hip 2 The Skeme." "How many days can I stretch this box of grits?" "I know the US economy And I could run it I'm 'bout to make these four dollars into four hundred Ain't nuttin' happenin' but the serious gank While they got billions in the bank we just got money on the dank And when we got fresh rims we on top On top of what when the kitchen table's on hock" Again, E-Roc shows that he's here for more than his choice of hairstyle. He's much more of a reasonable presence this time around than he was on _Kill My Landlord_... definitely a difficult job, what with Boots just running over the mic like a Mac truck. "See I'm a motherf*cker that's done some dirt for my meal ticket but I learned quick you gots to deal with it Well I did for twenty two f*ckin' years You damn straight my homiez relate when we all shed tears And it's clear to my ears I had to learn that knowledge 'Cause after twelfth grade I had to say f*ck college" "If everybody in the hood had a PhD You'd say, 'That doctor flipped that burger hella good for me' 200,000 brothers marchin' one mind one place to go Ain't no revolution... they just walkin' to the liquor store Here take a swig'a, so it's quicker bro, the nigger-o just wants to get thru the rigmarole, I've been here before" Anyway, the band takes us out and on into "Gunsmoke." The muzak takes a sudden bouncier and funkier turn. "I be havin' homicide runnin' thru my mind Don't know what's up with me Sh*t f*ck with me all the time Eatin' at my spine A motherf*cker in my prime How you gonna get yours when you too busy gettin' mine?" It works. "Skeletons deep down in the ocean 'Cause them slave ships had that three-stop motion Face down floatin' on the Mississippi River Burnin' crosses and motherf*ckers sayin' 'Die Nigga! Die Nigga!'" In fact, it works pretty well. "I said f*ck the whole judge and the jury My mind got delirious, my eyes got blurry had my uncle strapped to the chair hands ox-tied Breathin' in gas Breathin' out carbon monoxide Whole system stank like a load of bowel 'Cause ain't no billionaires on the murder trial Make the ghettos concentration camps every mile So march your ass to the gas chamber single file" And so we end the first half of _Genocide and Juice_ with the forty-second "This One's A Girl," a Pam The Funktress scritch-scratch fest. Not a bad one at all. Add a few more series like the first nine seconds and you'd have a very nice bit of DJ fodder. This leaves us with "The Name Game" wherein the Coup explains a bit about the industry and their place in it. "Every where we go you know especially in the 'O' We hear 'Coup! Coup!' We know we got love for show But even more when they see us on B E and T and M T and V but me and E can't pay the P G and E Power come from the barrel of a bucka I use the mic so that we ain't met the same motherf*cker 'Cause your sh*t can go gold and the only cash you got is the silver kind that don't fold" "F*ck the videos with the Benz's and the cellular phones Spendin' hundreds like quarters The Benz is their partner's The money's on loan and, um, the cellular number you've reached is out of order" Nice, nice, nice. I kinda like it. "I'm scrappin' fronts off like plaque No slack I come realistic like Radio Shack" "360 Degrees" follows. It uses the same laid-back groove as the intro track and features the voice of Jazz Lee Alston. She sort of does a sing-songy bit here, talkin' poetry. "Just say no to drugs But say yes to what?" I gives it dap. That brings us to "Hard Concrete." This is E-Roc's time to shine and I must say that he does manage to be just a little bit more than plain ol' slammin'. "Tragedy is an everyday thing Put on the video game Sip some Tang if I can stand the pain You need the knowledge from the street Now watch me learn it I went to get a job but too young for a work permit Don't come my way I might just have to gaffle ya They say we're growin' up fast But we just dying faster" Nice muzak. Anyway, this brings us to "Santa Rita Weekend." This track guest stars Spice 1 and E-40. "Just sittin' up on the top bunk watchin' the cell block row" Nice muzak on this one, if a bit straightforward. For some reason, this song manages to be somewhat depressing somehow (yeah, I know, but trust me on this one). Must be the soundz. "Some time you do your sh*t and ain't no second tries Look around, there's hella motherf*ckers I recognize" A bit less depressing is "Repo Man." I smell a popular track here. "Oh, I be scrappin' scratchin' for bones I got the cellular phone I just picked up on loan Keepin' up with them Jones' put my ass in debt" Besides, how can you not like the chorus? I mean, really. "I gives a f*ck how much bench press If you ain't pushin' up that 25% interest" Really. "He gives a f*ck if youse a momma with three toddlers and an infant He'll take the TV and the carpet and the living room that's stain-resistant" And except for the forty-second "Outro," all we have left is "Interrogation" with Osagyefo and Point Blank Range. This is not at all a bad way to go out. "I ain't seen sh*t I ain't heard nathan I don't know what happened I don't speak pig latin I'm a motherf*ckin' true and it's us against you So f*ck Starsky, Hutch and Inspector Cleauseau" "You want peace motherf*cker? Raise up out the hood" Not bad at all. So... where were we? Oh, yes, the bottom line. The bottom line? Easy. Run, don't walk. Run, don't jog. Run, don't pimp-step. Run to your local Hip Hop distributor and pick this up. Basically, this is why I started writing reviews in the first place: I wanted to be able to share dope finds like The Coup with the rest of the Hip Hop Nation. And whoot... here it is. So. Let us recap. The Coup is: stoopid mad phat. The Coup is: a group that has completely mastered the mystery of the True Lyric(tm) and tamed the Wild Beat(tm). The Coup is: all that and a little bit more. The Coup is: the group who just released the next album you should buy... and if you slept like Snow White on apples and didn't buy _Kill My Landlord_ last year, buy it too. *That's* the bottom line. Your duckets will not be wasted. But that's just one Black man's opinion--what's yours? (C) Copyright 1994, Charles L Isbell, Jr. All my Hip Hop reviews are available on the World Wide Web. Use the URL: http://www.ai.mit.edu/~isbell/isbell.html and follow the pointers.... Section 3 -- THREE **************THE OFFICIAL HARDC.O.R.E. REVIEW SECTION*************** HardC.O.R.E. pH scale 6/pHat - EE-YOW! A hip-hop Classic! 5/pHunky - Definitely worth the price of admission. 4/pHine - Solid. Few weaknesses here. 3/pHair - Some potential, but not fully realized 2/pHlat - Falls well short of a quality product 1/pHukkit - Get that Vanilla Lice shit OUTTA HERE! ********************************************************************* ***A*** David A Goldberg ---------------- "The Bomb Hip Hop Compilation" (1994 Bomb Entertainment / PGA Records) A Brief Introduction to the Bay Area Underground... San Francisco's KUSF Radio (90.3 FM) comes in between walls of static and signal overlaps from neighboring radio stations. Your Walkman reception depends on which way you happen to be looking, whether you are moving and on how much local interference there is around you. But it's always a treat to hear hip hop straining through the spectrum, especially when the lyrics you hear aren't of the playa/pimp variety pioneered by Too Short and carried on by the likes of Coug Nut, Get Low Playaz, JT Tha Bigga Figga, E40 and their immediate set of proteges, labelmates and rivals. Topping off my Sunday afternoon hip hop joy, these lyrics weren't from Hiero-related artists, the DU family, Paris' post-Dre creations or any of the half- baked "MCs" still fleeing the wreckage of Hammer's BustIt Records. Coming through the crackles and whines was distinctly Bay Area- styled hip hop that represented artists featured on the Bomb Hip Hop Compilation. The KUSF studio was full of interviews, freestyles, faulty mics and sometimes barely-audible backing tracks that sounded just lovely in the middle of the hiss -- *underground*, you know? It reminded me of old WBLS and KISS FM tapes sent to me by friends in New York back in the 80s. The Bay's underground hip hop shares with New York a passion for the dusty breaks, jazz-infected or deep-crate loops and battles for rhyme supremacy. At the same time, since BA MCs aren't coming from the same environment and are outside the gravitational field of New York's highly-competitive trend engine... ...my complaint is the Bay is hella fresh and a mess a people be brainwashed by the publicity of New York City we gotta make our own beginnin' - fuck winnin' the hearts of those who got the jump-start on us but I got trust in my Bay Area folks... - Bored Stiff, "Therapy" The same could be said of BA "playas" but their whole vibe is grounded in 'hood-claiming hustling, a mellowed-out gangsta vibe that owes more to the cultural similarities and differences between the Bay Area and Los Angeles than it does to New York. The Bay Area's hip hop underground, though connected to NYC in spirit and ingredients, is different from its other aboriginal manifestations including the colonial projects of Jive and Tommy Boy Records. The best and truest of the Bay Area underground reflects a deep awareness of its situation and makes no fantasies about it. This situation is often fundlessness, leading to a lack of recording resources and possibilities for gigs. I feel that a BA "playa" would go back to hustling if rhyming ceased to pay off while an underground artist would keep pushing, working two or three part-times and hacking the four track late at night. This leads to a key difference between the underground and the rest. The brightest artists in the underground recognize that their struggles to eat, make rent, deal with crooked record labels and *still* make good product set them apart from their (sometimes) drug- financed and major label-backed peers. As a result, their passion for the rhyme and the rhythm comes through in refreshing ways, yielding lyrics and grooves that can be far more complicated, subtle and insightful than much of what the rest of the art has to offer... and sometimes NOT... - Jigmastas, "Execution" "...blindfold me in the field, standin 50 feet back / bows and arrows stick my marrows / plus the guns and the gats / and the bats and the sticks cuz the rhyme is mad thick / if it really ain't all that then why the fuck you on my dick, nigga?..." This cut is by a New York expatriate and serves as a teaser for what turned out to be a disappointing first side. It's battle lyrics from the Treach school of structure over a solid kick-kick- snare beat, nice organ loop and good DJ work, but covers familiar ground and delivers no new levels of energy. - Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf, "Just Like a Test" "...so wrap the rhymes up punk and cue the tape / if rappin' was pool I'd hit the eight ball in off the break / yo, I collect dough for what I kick though / I'm not in a fraternity so don't sleep at a show..." A nice b-boom BAP loop with four-note vibes that gets tired real quick over fragmented lyrics that compare skills to shoes, warns gold-diggers away and make vague threats. I tend to fast-forward when my batteries are fresh. - Mental Prizm, "Strawberry Moon" "...so with the beauty of my cultures within me / I have much respect for the lady right beside me ... / ...through the thick and thin, to the very end / disrespect my squaw and I'm scalpin' fools by hundreds..." Progressive lyrics about respecting women on the streets and in the bedroom but the beat is way too hard and loud to go with the subject matter. If you're gonna seduce with rose petals and Coltrane then leave the 80s battle break beats in the crate. - Eyedl Mode, "End of the Innocence" "...diluted concentration egotistical persuasion / grips the unseen thoughts and I'm mistaken is it / what is this in the air? / solidified consciousness always present but unaware..." The off-beat stagger of the rhythms, pauses of silence, mix shifts and left/right channel overdubs are interesting, but dude's muttered baritone lyrics don't fall into the mix quite right. He obviously has a lot of ideas and with his fragmented poetry comes off better than PM Dawn but not as tight as Q-Tip or Plugs 1 & 2 when it comes to being abstract. - Dereliks, "No G'Nus" "...a game of dominos? / Keep your drama hoes / you know the nose knows / it only takes two scoops but that's the grape nuts you chose / so don't criticize my friends or my built or what's in my silk boxies / cuz I'm drinkin' milk now..." A light-hearted song with good energy. Unfortunately I can't imagine hearing this outside the context of a compilation. - The Nugs, "Pump" "Now pump your fist or you might get dissed / don't get me mad or get me pissed..." I try to avoid outright disses but this is wack with simplistic rhymes that will annoy you. On the upside, the production is nicely textured with screams, noises and drones. A radio DJ could use the second half for live freestyles, shout-outs and roll calls but the Nugs fill it up with shout-outs to every city they can think of. - Black Alicious, "Lyric Fathom" "...come get a little array of the skill supreme / wanna defeat me, my nigga you should kill the dream / the noise the boys the gals everybody / when I drop fat styles it ain't your simple blase bla ladi da / di average Joe Simpleton with a average flow / hafta go / afta yo / jugular / then shit get uglier..." Side two makes this compilation worth the price of admission. Kicking it off is a crew up from LA with *mad skills*. Skef is the kind of kid who could read this sentence and put rhymes where there were none. Once you deconstruct this track it becomes the greatest run-on sentence in history. No more jocking, this is PHAT. - Homeliss Derelix, "Fuck You" "...fuck black-ass students who could get better grades an' / fuck the stupid ass who made the California raisins / seems like they're black and as a matter of fact, fuck anybody else who made some shit like that..." This track was written, according to the rhymer, for those moods where you want to tell everything to fuck off. Dope jazz swing and a simple style that fits the fuck this-fuck that list he runs down. The treats come when you listen to how he structures what should be fucked. - Mystick Journeymen, "Swing" "...I'm squashin' your mental games / as I slay your wicked tongue as you hemorrhage in the flames / you're Tampax on wax and your period's almost over / so I know you wanna trudge through the weeds with this greed, yo..." A deep hypnotic track from this deeply-local duo. My opinon's biased cuz I've seen them live, accapella and with music backing them, rhyming for battles or first-person critiques of child abuse. Their rhymes run over drums, horns and flute like water over rocks. - Madchild featuring DJ Q-Bert, "Pregnant" "...well here's a little story I got to tell / about two bad b-boys with big hopes and dreams / we drive across the country just to step on the scene / I signed the dotted line but I guess I'm a dunce / cuz I been livin' in my car for about six months..." This is good work with Q-Bert breakin' down "gimme a chance, man I know I could rock it..." The bassline throbs under nice whining horns and sweet pianos. Lyrics are solid but a bit overshadowed by the heavyness of the beat, breaking down the realities of getting a deal and living dedicated to hip hop with precision not heard since Tribe's "The Business." - Bored Stiff, "Therapy" "You ain't a MC if you ain't sayin' anything of any significance to anyone / everyone / needs to rethink what they think's the beat / maybe if you listen to the lyrics you would think it's weak / it's easy being hard / what's even harder is being yourself / no one else could be more original..." Six skilled MCs who's lyrics range from deep introspection to razor-sharp criticism. Production is excellent, samples unique, DJ work like the perfect amount of spice in a good meal. They get fat rewinds and I'm fiending for their basement and demo tapes. Easily the high point of the compilation. - Total Devastation, "Part Time Assassin" "...so pop the clip and put the silencer on the gun / we're on the very next plane to Washington / get off the plane and the feds are jockin' me, yo / I'm on a mission, there's nothin' stoppin' me so..." This is gangsta bravado and studio fearlessness taking out various drug kingpins. Over a huge beat, they detail a hit on a street dealer and a shootout with the CIA but fail to tell us how he got through white house security to cap the president. Nice audio collage of gun/death hip hop references in the breaks. - The Product Pushers, "The Rap Race" An instrumental with sample collages critiquing the state of the art, slamming twisted promoters and fucked up record charts. A nice little beat that fills out the tape nicely. *CONCLUSION AND HIP HOP CRITIC'S BEATDOWN AVOIDANCE STATEMENT* The thing about a compilation of unsigned artists is that it is not a full representation of what they might be capable of if given the studio time, performance opportunities and critique. My opinions of the work on the Bomb Hip Hop Compilation are restricted to these tracks only and in most cases should not be taken as eternal damnation or praise cuz what goes up can come down and a full belly can make one's skills fall off real fast. pH Level - 4/pHine ***B*** Kevin Murphy ------------ BOOGIE MONSTERS, "Riders Of The Storm: The Underwater Album" (Pendulum/EMI) In a world of gangstas, pimps, hoes, and hardrocks, it is always refreshing to hear a group not trying to do anything but have fun and put out good hip-hop. Up step the Boogie Monsters to the mic. The only thing I don't like about this album is that the one kids voice is processed/altered in some way, and I have never liked this. Didn't like it when Pete Nice did it, and I didn't like it when Tupac did it(but then again, I don't like Tupac, but that's another story). With that out of the way, let's go on to the good things about the album. First off, the production by D! is solid throughout the entire album (the artists only produce "Mark Of The Beast"). Lyrically, these kids have more fun on the mic than most rappers out right now, something missing from hip-hop. Their flow is tight and always on beat. One other very commendable point to be made is that there is no cursing on this album (well, maybe one "shit", but I can't remember where, which means its close enough). It is the kind of album you could rock with your moms in the car (unless your moms is like mine and just refuses to listen to any of that "rap nonsense"). The pace is mostly laid back, but not too laid back. Their subject matter ranges from chilling with the honies, to rocking parties, to hanging out on the block, to how the Devil is trying to take over the world (there is a heavy religious influence throughout this album, done very cleverly). If you're looking for 40s, blunts, glocks, and hoes, this is NOT the album for you. If you're looking for good hip-hop, this album *is* for you. Stand out cuts on the album include "Jugganauts", "Boogie", "Muzic Appreciation", "Honeydips in Gotham", "Strange", "Bronx Bombas", well, you get the idea. Every hip-hop fan out there needs to thank the Boogie Monsters for putting some of the fun back into hip-hop. pH Level - 4/pHine ***C*** Oliver Wang ----------- COMMON SENSE, "Resurrection" (Relativity) What do Masta Ace, Gangstarr and Common Sense have in common? Mediocre debut albums, slamming sophomore albums. Don't get me wrong, I liked "Can I Borrow a Dollar?" Though the rhyming was a bit annoying at times, the production was okay and somewhat "ahead of its time" given that both Nikki Nicole (for Sweet Sable) and Jermaine Dupri (for Da Brat) jacked beats used on that album. And probably some other producers that I've since forgotten. The big change in Common Sense came with the single "Soul By the Pound" where Common dazzled critics with his lyrics on the remix. The slept on B-side "Can I Bust?" was so fat that I still get requests for that song today. With Resurrection, producers No ID and Y-Not dunk the funk and get razzed with the jazz. From the piano loop on the first song, "Resurrection" to the live piano on the last track "Pop's Song", this is some fat ass jazzy sh*t. I'd put it somewhere between Premier and Digable Planets in terms of how the samples are used. But song for song, this has some of the best produced music of the year -- probably back to 1993. I'd say this reminds a lot of what Dred Scott's "Breakin' Combs" could have been like if he had a slammin' album instead of the ok, but disjointed LP he put out. The one element that comes through this album is the drum loops. This may not seem like much, but there are some crisp, hard and clean drum hitting on this album which goes a long way to making literal "beats" that drive the song. The one thing I find missing from the West coast/Dre sound are fat drum loops. But the same way ATCQ used bass on the "Low End Theory", Y-Not and No ID incorporate percussion. Call it the "High Hat, Snare Theory". Lyrically, Common Sense has improved his skills quite a bit. People have already noted the great metaphor that Common uses on "I Used to Love H.E.R." but that's not the extent of his abilities. The only complaint? Brother comes off beat too much without coming back on. Take a lesson from Masta Ace or Saafir. Outstanding Tracks: "I Used to Love H.E.R." The first single is a fine choice. The beat is jazzy smooth, but the real sh*t here is the lyrics. HER refers to Hip Hop and Common is able to take this metaphor from old school through the gangsta era in terms of how hip hop has grown and both progressed and de-gressed. Great song. "Book of Life." The intro seems mellow enough until the real beat kicks in. Deep bass laced by drums heavily thrashed along by a ride cymbal. Definitely a head bopper. Not sure what the lyrics are about, though I suspect it's about hip hop and it's saving graces. "In My Own World." The album features the dynamic duo of producers No ID and Y Not with guest appearances, and No ID gets his on this cut. The cut has a playful touch to it, mainly flavored by a xylophone loop with a sample from Large Professor goin' "Yeah, yeah now check the method." Phat. Plus No ID is cool. Peep this: No time to get all excited just write it from the inside, let the pen slide, and spread the ink on the papyrus, come, understand this..." Boy's got a laid back voice, but a good flow...we need to hear more from him. "Chapter 13." As for Y-Not, he gets his on here. The track should be familiar to Akineyle fans -- it's from one of those 10 second teasers that producers annoyingly throw onto albums. Well, in the tradition of "93 Interlude" and "Runaway Slave" comes Chapter 13 referring to bankruptcy and avoiding it. The track is lighthearted, mainly relying on vibes and some nice horns. Y-Not is the sh*t too...VERY GOOD skills. For those who remember the B-side to "Soul by the Pound" will remember Y-Not on "Can I Bust?" So what's your name? Y Not, I own a mansion and a yacht... "Maintain." My favorite on an album with 'nuff fatness. This is clearly a made-for-party jam, as the chorus reveals. But the drum beat, while nothing you haven't heard before, works well with a dope piano loop. You gotta hear it to know what I'm saying. Common Sense keeps the party live...yup. My only question is what is this with the Chinese being like a peon? This is one of the best albums of the year thus far, and I seriously doubt it'll be dropped from my list of top 5 albums unless someone knows something about the rest of 94 that I don't. Phat lyrics, phat music. Tight product all around. Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up... pH Level - 6/pHat ***D*** Kevin Murphy ------------ CRAIG MACK, "Project: Funk Da World" (Bad Boy/Arista) Before I even go into the review, I want to send a big FUCK YOU to Bad Boy Entertainment for leaving 2 joints off of the Craig Mack vinyl, and *8* off of the B.I.G. vinyl! That's really fucked up! How can you not put the title track on the wax, at the least?!?! Now that I have that off my chest, we can move on to the review. After all the noise generated by "Flava In Ya Ear", this had to be one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year (I even had a kid who didn't know me from Adam come up to me in a parking lot when I was playing a tape with "Flava..." on it last summer, and ask me if that was the whole album!). I have to admit, when I first listened to this album I was disappointed. I thought "Flava..." was dope, and then I heard Pete Rock cut the hell out of "Get Down" on Pirate Radio, but after hearing those joints and getting home and cracking open the album, I was left thinking of what else I could use that tape I put the album onto for; another example of hasty judgment. After listening to the album a little more, I figure it's a'ight. Although it sounds like he was scared of using different samples, would someone tell me where this dungeon is that they put Easy Mo Bee in, and didn't let him come out until he had beats? On this album, but especially on B.I.G's album, Mo Bee pulled some shit out his ass! Lyrically, this is an interesting album. Craig Mack seems to have took out trademarks on some terms. He uses a few different flows on the album, and shows a lot of creativity. One thing I noticed though is that the album is somewhat contradicting at times, but these contradictions are VERY difficult to pick up if you don't pay very close attention. The one thing I liked most about this album, and Craig Mack in general, is the way that he talks on top of himself. This was done throughout the album, and came off well. All in all, a solid debut. Stand out cuts include "Get Down", "Judgment Day", "Real Raw", "When God Comes", and "Making Moves With Puff". With Third Eye waiting in the wings, will Bad Boy become the Def Jam of the '90s? (Does anyone besides me remember when Def Jam had VERY few artists, but ALL were DOPE?) pH Level - 4/pHine ***E*** David J. -------- DIGABLE PLANETS, "Blowout Comb" (Pendulum/EMI) What a difference a label makes. Pendulum Records was originally distributed by Elektra, that label infamous for taking the profits from its hip hop albums and funneling it into other projects, delaying album releases until the end of time, then dropping its artists unless they do their music to specific guidelines. Their inability to handle any urban music format is obvious -- they dropped KMD and Grand Puba, they did the world's worst promotion job with Del The Funky Homosapien's phat 2nd LP, and they didn't sign SWV when they had the chance. The way they've treated hip hop, you'd think that they wouldn't bat an eyelash at losing Pendulum Records to EMI. They ought to. Not only did they miss out on the BoogieMonsters and the new Lords of the Underground, they lost their number one rap group, the grammy-winning Digable Planets. Now, I know you're thinking, "Who gives a fuck about a goddam grammy?" But not only was "Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)" a successful album, it was a *great* hip hop album. There were so many layers to it that you had to play it over and over again just to catch everything, and with those jazzy rhythms and smooth beats, it was worth every listen. Which brings us to 1994 and "Blowout Comb," an album that takes the DPs in a slightly different direction. Oh, the jazziness is still there, but this time, there's no feeling of crossover like there was with "Rebirth of Slick." This is just pure, smoothed-out hip hop, served up Brooklyn-style. There's also a sort of 70s retro feel to this album, in part because of the album art, in which Butter, Doodle and Mecca sport these huge afros (don't worry, they didn't really grow 'em) and the text speaks of revolution reminiscient of old Black Power literature (topped off by the mention of imprisoned Panther Geronimo Pratt). The music just takes that retro idea to the next level, with lots of live percussion, phat horn/flute segues, and samples from *deep* in the crates from everyone from Bobbi Humphrey ("Blowing Down," "The Art of Easing") to Roy Ayers ("Borough Check") to Tavares ("Dial 7 (Axioms of Creamy Spies)"). Beyond that, though, it's just plain phat. The DPs lyrical flow is just too smooth, and mixed in with these tracks, it's all good. Plus, there's a deeper message this time around -- very strong, very pro-black, a little more political than you might expect. When Sara Webb starts singing on the "Dial 7" track, you almost expect to see the Planets walk in with a gangster lean dressed like the Drop Squad, larger than life, the funkiest clan on the block. It helps to have some appreciation for early Blacksploitation flicks to get into some of the music, as it won't be what you might expect from Digable Planets. But it doesn't jump out and grab you like Shaft might. It leans into the groove smoothly, "16 times for your mind with pleasure," as Mecca puts it in "The May 4th Movement Starring Doodlebug." Guest appearances by Guru and Jeru The Damaja add to the pleasure. This is a stone groove, baby. What a shame that Elektra didn't think so. They would have had this album out on their label in June, but they probably wanted more of that crossover stuff. Losers... pH Level - 6/pHat ***F*** Kevin Murphy ------------ FINSTA & BUNDY, "Sunnyside" b/w "Spirit Of The Boogie" (Big Willie Records) First there was Black Moon. Then there was Smif-N-Wessun (although we have yet to see an album from them), or should I say Steele & Tec. Now, we have Finsta & Bundy representing Bushwick. The first thing one will notice about this duo is that they are the first group out of this bunch NOT to be produced by Da Beatminerz. The production from Finsta may sort of remind you of Beatminerz production, but is different enough that it doesn't have a wannabe sound to it (by the way, the production is on point). Lyrically, Finsta & Bundy flow sort of like a 1994 Buckshot/Smif, but are distinctive enough to get props on their own. The lyrics themselves aren't great, but they are far from wack. Bottom line is that if Finsta & Bundy continue to represent the way they did on this single, they should definitely make some noise in '95. Gotta send a G-Look out to the DJ at Disc-O-Mat on W. 4th for putting me on to this 12". And a note to Big Willie Records: on the next 12", can we make sure the wax is labeled correctly? Regardless, this single is dope. Go scoop it up. pH Level - 5/pHunky ***G*** Oliver Wang ----------- K.M.D., "Black Bastards" (Editor's Note: This album was scheduled to be released by Elektra in early '94. It is now only available directly from Zev Love X or through bootleg outlets. We do hope that this album will be released legitimately soon, if only to preserve the legacy of a group that should have blown up. Thanks again, Elektra...) First of all, yes I have the album on vinyl, but NO, don't ask me to get acopy. I'm not sure about the details behind the release of this bootleg album, but under the circumstances, I don't care. Now if I can only get my hands on the pre-breakup Main Source's second album on Wild Pitch. Some quick things off the bat. The sound quality isn't the greatest though it's not total sh*t. Also, the album is missing some cuts. According to Matt Africa, who had a dub of the promo tape of the album, there's at least two missing songs. Why they didn't get on the bootleg? Don't know. But maybe if the album is ever released commercially they'll put 'em back on. For those who remember Mr. Hood, they'll remember a very playful and well thought out project. Personally, I didn't like it that much beat-wise so I never bothered keeping the album. With the second album, they've definitely evolved in their sound. "What a Nigga Know" was not a good representation of the album. The remix, however, was more indicative because the album is more bassline- oriented. My Basic Opinion: phat album. Every beat is tight, the rhyming is good, and the general package is tight. Rest in Peace to Sub Roc. For those who care to read on... "Black Bastards and Bitches." The first track starts out with an "I ain't black, I ain't white" chorus with the background being a jazzy, slurry bassline. After about eight bars, the beat drops in and so does Zev Love X. After eight bars of rhyme, a playful horn loop drops in and changes up every eight bars after. I've liked Zev Love X's voice since 3rd Bass' "Gasface." The only glitch is once his rhyme ends, because the track disintegrates in a beat-less chaos which kills the flow. Sub Roc follows. I admit, it's hard to listen without remembering that he's dead... "It Sounded Like A Rock." Both my favorite and least favorite track on the album for this reason: It takes its fat bassline from Pharoh Sanders' "Thembi." I heard this track a year ago and I knew from the first bar that this would be the first record I ever sampled as a producer...and KMD beats me to it! Injustice! Seriously though, the bassline is ALL that and KMD skillfully include other aspects of Sanders' song. As the title indicates, Sub Roc rocks this track. "Plummskinz." I haven't been able to find this "Nitty Gritty" B-side yet so it was nice to find it on the album, though I think it's shorter than the 12" copy. A classic beat... "Fuck With the Head." The bassline is ill as usual, strumming back and forth while various horns and some subtle scratching flavor the rest of the track. The first rapper is from Hard 2 Obtain. There's also a guest rhyme by DL (from H20?) It's a fairly simple track, reminds me of the Beatnuts' "Are You Ready?" -- just better. "Suspended Animation." Bass-heavy once again with a murky bassline that soon gets complimented by a simple but crisp drum loop. It's a short track, only one verse by each rapper and a very long outro. "Get You Now." A rather live sounding bass line rolls deep and thrashing drums drop in on cue. This is the "hardest" track on the album as Zev Love X step up their rhyme out of laid-back mode and roll with some rabid energy. "What a Nigga Know?" If you haven't heard this cut yet, don't bother reading this review. "Contact Blintz." The jazziest track on an already jazzed-up album, this track incorporates vibes and a piano loop plus random horns. The bassline is noticeably subtler, especially compared to other tracks on the album. In terms of mood, this album shares space with Organized Konfusion's "Stress" LP, but it does a better job music-wise, going with simple, but effective bass lines and throwing in enough extra flavor to make the tracks more than one dimensional. Rhyme-wise, both Zev Love X and Sub Roc have tight flow and style, spitting rhymes rat- a-tat-tat. Better than "Mr. Hood"? Hard to say. "Black Bastards" is a great album on its own merits, but in comparison? Depends on the listener. As far as sophomore attempts ago, I still think Masta Ace, Public Enemy, Common Sense (I ain't lying ya'll) and GangStarr have the premium on them. But no doubt, this is a fine album and a rare one at that. pH Level - 5/pHunky ***H*** Martin Kelley ------------- THE MEXAKINZ, "Zig Zag" (Wild West/Mad Sounds) Okay, so the title ain't that great. It is supposed to describe their style -- you know back and forth a la Run-DMC or Das- EFX. Not that they could be confused with either of these groups. It seems the LBC is in tha house again. This time it's tha Mexikinz trying to sport their skills. I guess they tried. "A Little Somethin'" has a weak unoriginally styled chorus but there is some nice Spanish language flow (which I was interested in from them in the first place) "Welkum 2 Da Hood?" -- guess the lyrical content. "Welcome to tha hood, do ya wanna be my neighbor?" (not unless they got some fly hermanas) "Cok Bak Da Hamma!" has pretty good rhymin' Especially in Spanish, same ol' chorus though, except for the exclamation mark. In "Da Joint," the music is a familiar melody but it's not sampled which is cool but this track lopes around with no tightness whatsoever and needs trimming. "Extaseason" is a sex song that must have prematurely ejaculated before they went to the studio -- and they picked this as their second single! No wonder nobody has ever heard of them. Before you turn around, there's "Murdah." Now their Killers! Duck Down! Yeah, right... "Push up N Da wrong" is kinda cool safe sex message and a good sample for the chorus, but it's lost on this album. I wish they had taken more chances with their musical choices like on "Phonkie Melodia," which initially grabbed my attention. On the whole, I've got to dis this album. The only thing that stood out on this record was the Spanish rhymes and the 1st single "Phonkie Melodia". pH Level - 2/pHlat ***I*** Steven J Juon ------------- NOTORIOUS B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smallz), "Ready To Die" (Bad Boy/Arista) "You won't see me up in this motherfucker no more. I got big plans nigga, big plans...." And with that, we are introduced to the pHat new album by that man they used to call Biggie Smallz on his own solo debut. As far as most of his fans are concerned that still IS his name, but you know how the legal bullshit goes. This album easily qualifies as one of the few that manages to live up to it's pre-release hype. If you didn't already know The Notorious B.I.G. from such underground classics as "Party and Bullshit" and Supercat's "Dolly My Baby" remix, you are in for a TREAT. First, B.I.G. has a voice that can only be described as a thick chunky chocolate syrup that just FLOWS over every ice cream track Easy Mo Bee could hook up (and his production is even MORE of a surprise than anything else this album offers). Among others flexing behind are Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and DJ Premier on "Unbelievable". Ironically, Premier's track is one of the few disappointments. The harmonic discord he mastered so well on "D. Original" doesn't work for me here. Everybody talks about the second coming of Rakim being Nas. Well B.I.G. to me is the second coming of Kool G Rap, because his lyrics and hardcore and sexual without sounding silly, played, or tired. His voice conveys a powerful tale and his lyrics, while not INCREDIBLE, smack you across the grill with their delivery. OK so I'm raving about how great it is, but where's the evidence? For starters, peep "Things Done Changed", which is a back- in-the-day jam on a WHOLE OTHER LEVEL: Loungin at the barbecues drinkin brews with the neighborhood crews hangin on the avenues now turn your pages, to nineteen ninety three Niggaz is gettin smoked G, believe me He doesn't talk so much about the days being phat as he does how shit flipped and now is FUCKED up. "Motherfucker this ain't back in the days, but you don't hear me though." Step right to track 3 and get broken off with the quickness, cause like Guru said on "Just to Get a Rep" -- "well he's stickin you, but taking all of your money." "Gimme the loot," cause he's a Bad Boy on the label of the same name: Big up big up, it's a stick up stick up and I'm shootin niggaz quick if you hiccup Don't let me fill my clip up in your back and head piece, the opposite of peace... ...and on and on, till the jewelry is gone, word is BOND. I could talk about how dope "Machine Gun Funk" and "Ready to Die" are, but I can't help myself. It's the M-E-T-H-O-D Man! Perhaps the other most anticipated solo debut from the East this fall is Meth's own, but he takes a minute out to drop a few rhymes on "The What", which is no doubt my fave on the LP. I'm not a gentle - man, I'm a Method, Man baby accept it, utmost respect it *assume the position* stop look and listen I spit on your grave then I grab my Charles Dickens... BIG, no slouch either, comes back with: Welcome to my center. Honies feel it deep in their placenta cold as the pole in the winter. Far from the inventor, but I got this rap shit sewed...". Indeed he does. Y'all know the next track Juicy, so I don't really need to say nothin. In fact, I hardly need to say anything else at all! Check out the smooth mack groove of "Big Poppa", the ghetto love tale of "Me and My Bitch", check "Unbelievable" if you sweat everything Premier has ever done, hell just check out the whole damn thing! There really isn't that much on here that's wack. True hip-hop fans of all ages and coasts should love it. pH Level - 6/pHat ***J*** Oliver Wang ----------- O.C., "Word Life" (Wild Pitch) Cool Kim hooked me up with O.C.'s new joint the other day, and after a couple of listens (and some serious disagreement with Matt Africa), I've come to my conclusions about the album... This album reminds me a lot of Akineyle's LP. Not that their rhyme styles are even close, but I felt both albums had decent moments but over-all, were lackluster. Some of ya'll are probably going to disagree, but... My read on what makes a good hip hop album is that it blends good hip hop and rap. I'm using Nelson George's definitions of the two where rap is the verbal ability of the MC whereas hip hop is the overall flow. Hip Hop includes music, but isn't limited to it. So good hip hop albums include a good blend of both rap and hip hop, meaning that the rhyme is ON while the music and flow gets the listener into it. It also means you can't really have one without the other. A dope MC backed by wack production has good rap, just not good hip hop. And smooth production that's laid over by weaker rhyming also falls short. In O.C.'s case, it's combo of both. O.C.'s rhyme style, while far from wack, is not arresting. He's just...there. The production, while jazzy and at times tight, doesn't have that "sonic impact" that the Source was riffin' about. At it's best, most of it wasn't as good as sh*t I've peeped on Common Sense's, the Beatnuts', or Extra Prolific's albums. That's not to say that the album is wack. The first three songs are fat, especially "Word Life" who's track should be recognized by "Project Blowed" fans. I'm all up in "O Zone" if for no other reason than it's going to be my theme song for my radio show...plus, it is a fat song. But then "Born to Live" drops in the standard TROY/Back In the Day cut that seems almost cliche on albums nowadays. No offense, but both the original AND the remix didn't move me much. "Ga Head With Self" had a butter cut but was on some bullsh*t homophobic/misogynic tip. O.C. comes off more ignorant than fly even if he did come up with some good metaphors. Maybe I'm missing out on something, but how many skeezing/cheating hoes are out there? It'd fuckin' blow my mind to hear a rhyme praising sisters more than just once in a blue moon. "Story" easily made my Least Favorite list. The beat was nowhere, and the "story" was weak. Plus, it reminded too much of "School of Hard Knocks" style of story telling. The "Outro," though, was butter as was "No Main Topic" where Organized's Prince Poe shares the mic duties. But overall, this album didn't have me hyped, especially compared to recent albums I've heard. With a few exceptions, the album didn't have moments of hip hop ecstasy where I got a hit off of just listening to it. Maybe that's a lot to ask but when I hear the vibes on the Beatnuts' "Get Funky" or check the bassline on Extra Pro's "Go Back to School" on some other level. O.C. didn't take me there. pH Level - 4/pHine ***K*** Ryan A MacMichael ----------------- "Off the Dome! Freestyle Compilation" (Independent compilation) Fools don't know about the giddy-gat...uh... gladiator, Don't know about no... uh... I was gonna' say radiator... - Saafir Fingernail clippers... Every time that I rock I tell ya I do not slippa', Clip your nails every time that I do work, I prefer my nails clipped so they don't hold dirt. - Supernatural True freestyles right there, kid. Saafir the Saucee Nomad has the nastiest flow in North America. His staccato on-off beat style comes through in not only his album material (like his current single, the incredible "Light Sleeper") but in his freestyles, where he'll make an "uh..." a natural bridge as he thinks of what comes next. And Supernatural. He's from Venus, straight up. This boy flips lyrics off the cuff like it was nothing. EastWest will be releasing his premiere album, a one-take straight up freestyled album. Should be some fierce shit. Skills are definitely flexed on the air on the Sway & Tech show on this tape -- they throw topics at him about everything from the "Morning Show" to pimps & hookers. And he comes fluidly rough. This compilation has about 80 minutes worth of freestyles and on air rhymes. Not everyone comes off the dome (Wu-Tang, Shyheim, and Vicious don't, and neither does Kool Keith), but those that do rip shit fierce and make this tape one of the best collections available for the true hip-hop fans. Representing on this tape from beginning to end are Extra P, O.C., Casual, Alkaholiks, Artifacts, Saafir, Kurious Jorge, Masta Ase, Lord Digga, Raekwon, Method Man, Inspector Deck, Ras Kass, Vooduu!, Kool Keith, Bobbito, Godfather Don, Ganjah K, Supernatural, Guru, Jeru (not really, though), Grand Ghetto Communicator, Vicious, Shyheim, Rza, Gza, Nef-Hu, Akineyle, Showtime, G-Money (damn, someone actually HAS that name?!), Del, Evol, and Organized Konfusion. Repeat performances on the tape come from Saafir and Supernatural. Even though the full 90 minutes isn't filled with freestyles, dmad fills it with other cuts. Mine had "Round 2" by the Heavyweights (you know, Freestyle Fellowship, Volume 10, and crew), "Remain Anonymous" by Ras Kass (kid is all that), and "Listen Up" by Erule. Whether he changes for each tape he sends, I'm not sure, though. So, basically, no one should sleep on this shit, 'cause it highlights the best kids out there at the art of freestyling. It's something that all too many kids can't do, but the crews on this tape make it clear that it ain't dead. To order, send a check or money order for $10 and 2 stamps for postage to: David Maduli 2650 Durant St #D410 Berkeley, CA 94720 Nuff respect is given to the King Tech Wake-Up Show (106.1 San Fran), the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show (89TEC9 NYC), DJ Kiilu of the Heavyweights (fat mix tapes) and some show in LA (don't know the name--sorry). pH Level - 5/pHunky ***L*** Russell A. Potter ----------------- PARIS, "Guerilla Funk" (Scarface Records) I've always had much respect for Paris, both for his messages and his music, since his first single on Tommy Boy back in '89. Paris's raps were, after Public Enemy, the strongest pro-Black Nationalist voice in hip-hop, and matched their content with a tense lyrical flow unlike any other rapper. After his break with Warner/Tommy Boy in 1992 over their attempt to censor his cover art (depicting Paris crouching in the bushes, ready to take out then-President Bush) and his "Bush Killa" anthem, he broke new ground by successfully going independent, then picking up distribution for his new label via Priority (a path followed not long afterward by Ice T). Paris released his banned album, _Sleeping With the Enemy_, and built up Scarface as a force in hip-hop, with his own posse of artists including the Conscious Daughters, C-Funk, 4Deep, and The Old School. Always a strong force in the production of his own beats, with trademark guitar loops and panther growls, Paris worked the boards for several of his Scarface artists. Those who caught the Daughters' debut album, "Ear to the Street," were treated to a different sound, West Coast funk with a new, harder edge. Finally, in '94, Paris brings his new "Guerrilla Funk" to his own raps, and the result is an album that combines street beats and Panther politics in a way no other artist can. Paris kicks knowledge right from the first track, "It's Real": On the scene, back again, with the muthafuckin' grip '93 was the year P-Dog came rippin' shit Bouncin' out the belly of the Beast And still tha same nigga that was hollerin' fuck tha P But check it out, it's the same ol' thang 'Cos the year is '94 and ain't a damn thang changed Niggas still droppin' dead like flies And I'm still lookin' for a way to make us rise I emphasize that I still hate a devil And I'mma muthafuck that, I'll take ya ass to tha next level Straight guerrilla in the mist up to tha end And I'm gonna put it in tha mix again .... Paris's militant message is as potent as ever, and comes off strong over his new funkdafied sound -- P-Dog meets P-Funk, you might say. From this track, he slides right into "One Time Fo' Ya Mind," maybe the strongest cut on the album. Over a slow, haunting groove (with an eerie Toni Childs vocal loop on the chorus), Paris sets the record straight: Ever since I broke the grip of shame back in '89 I see tricks trippin' all the time, like a did a crime Got me on the news, cos they wanna hide the truth But notice I'm a soldier, and I'm comin' at the youth Black guerrilla standing for my folk, and I'm proud This one goin' out to the brothers locked down, Now as long as we keep playing by your rules I'm leavin' shit stains on ya flag 'till I'm through Time after time, I bring the motherfuckin facts I'm comin' pro-black, understand where I'm at. After this track, things pick up right again with the lead single, "Guerrilla Funk." It's amazing how many times the "Knee Deep" beat can be used without getting tired -- from "Kiss You Back" to "Dre Day" -- and Paris fattens it up by supplying new guitar fills and customized vocals. The end effect is like putting new rims on an old ride, making a track so funky and so righteous that it ought to send a message to all would-be OG's of the week -- come correct or don't bother: Beatin' down your block is the brutha with the bomb shit Comin' with tha sound, makin' underground bomb hits New in '94, it's time for some action, I'm axin' Which one a y'all is down for the count? -- Now Still in a war zone, in '94 it's on, but I'm full grown fuckin' with the microphone, P-Dog creepin' in tha drop with a thirty-ot Still fuckin' with tha man, and it's kinda odd That a nigga roll down, and let the trigga go Still gotta pray for an L.A. replay Black folks still brain-dead to tha truth But I still got love, so I'm comin' through With a trunk full o' funk that'll make ya separate the real from the fake, each and every day ... This cut, without a doubt, will be blaring out car speakers all through the fall. Yet Paris, however much he tailors his sound to the beat of the moment, has serious business to take care of. Paris stays true to his Panther roots, though on this album he's clearer about what he wants to tear down than what he wants to build up. Paris leaves the positivity tip to the numerous books and lecturers he lists in the CD booklet (complete with phone numbers for booking speakers). It's a good move, though you kinda wish more of that knowledge was in the lyrics and less was on the bookshelf. When you get right down to it, even the books Paris recommends are pretty limited -- Chancellor Williams and J.A. Rogers are dusty old stand-bys, and Frances Cress Welsing (a raging homophobe known for her efforts to de-program gay black men) has no business on anybody's "revolutionary" reading list. Progressive Black scholars such as Manning Marable, bell hooks, or Michael Eric Dyson are strangely absent -- as are Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon -- though maybe I shouldn't be so picky with a bibliography that only measures three by five inches. But whatever the source, it's the music that has to make it come alive. "Outta My Life," recaptures the mellow feel of "Ebony" and "Asaataa's Song," but the message is much more grim. In a moment of self-reflection, Paris wonders "how many dope records do it take / before the brother make sleeping giants awake?" It wouldn't take many, if every album were as potent as this one, though this particular cut doesn't have the flow of the first four. But that's quickly forgotten when you hear "Whatcha See," a funky, phase-shifted groove in which Paris shows that the P-Dog can morph into Doggy Dogg without losing his political grip. The lyrics run deep, though the Doggisms flow so thick and heavy that you have the urge to laugh -- but not before you think. As always, Paris still finds "brand new ways to my peoples' heart." Just in case you can't contain that urge to laugh, though, you can cut loose on the next track, "40 Ounces and a Fool," a signifying send-up of Snoop's malt liquor endorsements: Reachin' fo' the can is the man with no conscience But I'm makin' money, so nigga you can watch this Mac bubble, 'cos I'm trouble, when I pop the top Even though I know, I'm sellin' out my soul, just to make a knot So, Nigga buy it, and fuck what ya heard Cos all of that old Black Power bullshit is for the birds Yeah, I know its poison that I'm sellin 'em But I'm the new house nigga wit da flowww ... Finally, Paris goes out strong with the deep-down groove of "Back in the Days." If the title sounds a little familiar, no doubt it is -- and what does it say that so many rappers are looking back to the time "before the glock was king" -- even those whose age is less than half their gun caliber? Paris reaches back with the best, striking up familiar themes from his own "The Days of Old." It's a smooth cut, a sure pick for the album's second single, and Paris' most polished track to date. In fact, if there's anything I *do* miss in this album, it's the rough, tense edge that used to make Paris stand a bit farther out from the crowd. I'm down with the funk, and producers and DJ's can dust off all the '70's vinyl they want, but listening to this album makes me miss the sparseness and urgency of late-80's hip-hop. Someday soon, I kinda feel, the thick funk grooves will fade back in the mix a bit and let raw beats return to front and center -- maybe Paris will be the one to do it on his *next* album. On the other hand, if you like funk in your trunk and messages that will carry you through the mess age, Paris has 'em both, and to spare. pH Level - 5/pHunky ***M*** Russell A. Potter ----------------- "Phat Trax" (5 CD Compilation) (Rhino Records) I have a lot of respect for Rhino Records. Once upon a time, they were as stiff and heavy as an old '78, with most of their releases concentrated in geriatric rock or mainline R&B compilations like "Soul Hits of the 70's." To their credit, Rhino has tried to keep up with the times, and as previous collections such as "Hip-Hop From the Top" and "In Yo Face" amply prove, they can outdo just about any label when it comes to tracking down old grooves, digitally remastering them, and packaging them with informative liner notes. And, unlike Priority, whose "Rapmasters" series promises "full-length" and delivers cut versions, Rhino gets right on back to the studio masters, and almost never fades out prematurely. Now comes "Phat Trax," a five-CD compilation in which Rhino tries to expand on its solid funk database with a collection that brings together the phattest beats of the old school, especially those beats that have been booming under the latest onslaught of gangsta funk. "Phat Trax" does what it promises, though for a variety of reasons it's likely to irritate as many people as it pleases. The tracks are phat both in the sense of beats and length; most of them are taken from the extended 12" vinyl mixes (one reason why the CD's average only ten songs each). For those funk-heads who are more than knee deep in vinyl, there's little here they won't already have; this collection aims directly at those whose system is built around a CD player. For those listeners, this set is a gold mine, and will save hours of searching around in used vinyl shops -- not to mention the pristine, digital sounds (you can hear the music box key being wound up in the intro to Sun's "Sun is Here" just as if it were an inch from your ear). And, for those who crave bass, hearing these cuts re-EQ'ed for the digital age is a treat in itself. The tough part is the selection of tracks, which as always is subject to the vagaries of the music industry's tangled web of copyright and performance rights. Partly as a result, almost everyone will find one of their favorites missing, or wonder why some cuts ended up on this collection at all. At the same time, there's something here for just about everyone, from the Meters' crisp, spare beats ("Cissy Strut") to the hyper-arranged funk of the Brothers Johnson ("Ain't We Funkin' Now"), and everything in between. For anyone who grew up in the 70's, there's memory trips aplenty: an early, Afro'd Natalie Cole, Fatback before its flash in the pan with King Tim III, or the Heatwave of the Summer of '78 ("The Groove Line"). Hip hop heads will recognize a lot of these tracks from current samples and loops, proving once again that nostalgia has *nothing* to do with how you raid the crates. That horn riff that kicks off "Welcome to the Terrordome"? Try T.S. Monk's "Bon Bon Vie." That crazy, whistling noise that sounds like a tea kettle about to blow its top? It's in the JB's "The Grunt." If you thought Public Enemy got the air raid sirens that launch *Nation of Millions* from a sound effects record, you'll think again when the Gap Band drops a bomb on you, and tracks like Lyn Collins's "Think" and Isaac Hayes's "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" will have you saying, "Damn! so that's where that came from" about every fifteen seconds. Not all these discs are created equal, however. Volume One is my personal favorite; not only does it clock in with nearly 80 minutes of funk, it has the full 15-minute version of Funkadelic's "Knee Deep," Tom Browne's seminal "Funkin' for Jamaica (N.Y.)," and Isaac Hayes representing the old *old* school (every volume but volume five has a track or two from the sixties to round things out). Volume three, which brings together The Time ("777-9311," you realize, is a much funkier number than 1-800-NEW-FUNK), Slave's "Watching You," Con Funk Shun's "Chase Me," and the inescapable "Atomic Dog," is another standout. Volume five is a fitting end to the series, showcasing late- 70's and early 80's funk from the Gap Band, GQ, Laid Back, the Dazz Band, and Foxy. Volumes 2 and 4 don't pack quite the same amount of funk to the square inch (maybe even numbers are inherently less funky), and also have some repeat tracks already available on other Rhino compilations (one bad habit I wish Rhino would break -- why should I buy a "new" compilation that has two tracks already re-released by the same company?). But other than that, complaints are few; if you like CD's and want the maximum amount of funk for your trunk, these compilations have it. pH Levels - Vol. 1 5/pHunky Vol. 2 4/pHine Vol. 3 5/pHunky Vol. 4 4/pHine Vol. 5 5/pHunky Track listing: Vol. 1 (Rhino R2 71752) Funkadelic -- (Not Just) Knee Deep Brick -- Dazz Mass Production -- Firecracker Brass Construction -- Get Up to Get Down Fatback -- Gotta Get My Hands on Some (Money) Twenynine, featuring Lenny White -- Peanut Butter Michael Henderson -- Wide Receiver Bar-Kays -- Hit and Run Isaac Hayes -- Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic Vol. 2 (Rhino R2 71753) Funkadelic -- One Nation Under a Groove Fatback -- Backstrokin' Tom Browne -- Thighs High (Grip Your Hips and Move) Sun -- Sun is Here Faze-O -- Riding High One Way -- Pull Fancy Dancer Pull T.S. Monk -- Bon Bon Vie Brick -- Dusic Lyn Collins, the Female Preacher -- Momma Feel Good The Meters -- Cissy Strut Vol. 3 (Rhino R2 71754) One Way -- Cutie Pie Slave -- Watching You The System -- You are in my System Yarbrough & Peoples -- Don't Stop the Music Con Funk Shun -- Chase Me Madame X -- Just That Type of Girl The Time -- 777-9311 Jesse Johnson's Revue -- Free World George Clinton -- Atomic Dog (Atomic Mix) Otis Redding & Carla Thomas -- Tramp Vol. 4 (Rhino R2 71755) Cameo -- Shake Your Pants Rufus & Chaka -- Do You Love What You Feel Carl Carlton -- She's a Bad Mama Jama Roy Ayers -- Don't Stop the Feeling Junior -- Mama Used to Say Teena Marie -- Square Biz The Brothers Johnson -- Ain't We Funkin' Now One Way -- The Groove The JB's -- The Grunt Lyn Collins, the Female Preacher -- Think (About It) Vol. 5 (Rhino R2 71756) The Gap Band -- You Dropped a Bomb on Me Heatwave -- The Groove Line Cheryl Lynn -- Got to Be Real Emotions -- Best of my Love Natalie Cole -- Be Thankful GQ -- Disco Nights (Rock Freak) People's Choice -- Do It Any Way You Wanna Laid Back - White Horse Dazz Band -- Joystick Foxy -- Get Off ***N*** Kevin Murphy ------------ PMD, "Shade Business" (RCA) A year or so, we heard that Parrish Smith was not going to make any solo joints. Why couldn't he stick to his guns? This has got to be one of the worst albums I have ever heard. If you only want to hear how well your system can handle bass, this is the album for you. If you want to hear dope beats, or dope rhymes, it's not. Lyrically and musically, this album relies too much on old EPMD tracks. The other thing that makes this album weak is the delivery and flow. There are SEVERAL places on the album where you wonder if there is some beat somewhere that PMD is "flowing" to, only it is not the one playing. The other MAJOR problem with this album is that it is EXTREMELY OBVIOUS that Erick Sermon is the target of the album, from the line over the "E", to lots of the "lyrical" material. To compound this even further, the use of outside emcees is very similar to what Erick Sermon did on his album. One thing that someone should tell Parrish Smith is that when you have guest emcees on your album, they should not outshine you on every cut they appear, which is not saying much when we refer to Zone 7 and Top Quality. 3rd Eye is the only bright spot on an otherwise shineless album, along with the Das EFX cameo on "Here They Cum". I think this album should have been called "Going Out Of Business". Some people just dont know when to say when. pH Level - 2/pHlat ***O*** David J. -------- POPPA DOO, "da saga continues" (Duumark/BMG) It must be the money. I can't think of any other reason why some people even bother making albums like Poppa Doo's latest effort "da saga continues." This saga never should have started -- it's so played out with its drug-smuggling, get-rich-quick, shoot-anyone-in-your-path bullshit that it's barely worth the effort to review. As a matter of fact, this album demonstrates just what's wrong with hip hop today. It seems like everyone in this whole goddamn business is trying to come up on some old gangsta lean, and nobody is taking responsibility for what they're saying. How many niggaz do you have to kill on a record to be considered a good artist? How many blunts do you have to smoke? How many babies do you have to father and then leave saying "Fuck a bitch" behind you (like Poppa Doo says in "Mass Murderin'" -- there's a theme worth celebrating, eh?) in some vain attempt to prove your manhood? And people wonder why hip hop gets such a bad rep among parents and other so-called authority figures -- BECAUSE THIS IS THE SHIT WE GIVE THEM!!! And this is the shit hip hop cannot afford to accept anymore. I'm sick of all these wanna-be gangsta rappers who think they're all that just because they have a record, or because they make money from some label that will pay 'em and drop 'em after their Chronic sound-alike doesn't sell as well as Dr. Dre's did. You can make a record about being "Fucked in the Game" a million times over -- WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT???????? Records like this have to stop. This is not the way rap music deserves to go out, because this album is not rap music -- it's garbage, pure and simple. Hip hop isn't going anywhere until garbage like this gets kicked to the curb. So to all you punks out there that think the only way you're going to make it in rap is to rhyme about the same trash that happens in the ghetto over and over again -- get over it. There's a world out there that doesn't give a fuck about your block. Learn to represent the human race for a change. pH Level - 1/pHukkit ***P*** David J. -------- SAAFIR, "Boxcar Sessions" (Qwest/Reprise) Saafir the Saucee Nomad first broke onto the scene in late 1993 with a cameo on Digital Underground's LP "The Body Hat Syndrome," but didn't actually catch anyone's attention until he did a short track on Casual's album "Fear Itself." It was then that he and Hobo Junction, a crew that came quite literally from the streets of Oakland, finally got some attention for their demo, which was an underground sensation in the Bay Area for over a year. It resulted in a contract with Qwest and the phat single "Light Sleeper/Battle Drill," which highlighted Saafir's crazy newfangled flow to the highest extremes. So this album is something heads have been anticipating for a while. The rep Saafir (which is not only the MC's name, but also the name of the group, Saafir and Jay-Z) created for themselves, however, doesn't come through in this album. Lyrically, Saafir is rarely off- point, but musically, something is missing. A lot of the production sounds muddy and indistinct, leaving the album without a solid phat groove to complement the lyrics. Only a few tracks besides the cuts on their first single come off ("Just Ridin'", "Playa Hayta"), and even they don't reach out and grab you and say, "Yo, this is phat, right?" In addition to being a Saafir album, "Boxcar Sessions" is also a Hobo Junction preview reel, with more cameo appearances than a week of Letterman episodes. Some of them are cool, like Benny B.'s message ("If you follow a light down a dark path, the path could go anywhere, eventually leading to a dark end. If you are the light, you are the path."), but others such as Pee Wee's "How many times can you say muthafucka?" soliloquy just don't do anything but sit there and take of space on this album. Other cameos in which members of the Junction rhyme don't help either, since all they do is highlight how much better Saafir is on the mic. If you dig hip hop only for the lyrics, this is your album. Saafir is one of the most original lyricists to hit the scene since Hiero first hit the scene a couple of years ago. However, if you're looking for beats that come out and grab you and don't let go, you'd be better off just getting Saafir's single and moving on. The Hobos still need some extra work on their production before they can jump off on something that slams like it should. pH Level - 4/pHine ***Q*** David J. -------- SIMPLE E, "Colouz Uv Sound" (Fox) It's about time. For about four or five months after the buzz from her debut single "Play My Funk" finally died down, Simple E (pronounced Simply E) was AWOL from the hip hop scene, and everyone was wondering where she went. Mad heads suspected that D'wayne Wiggins left her halfway through the production to go on tour with them other two Tonies. No problem -- just call up Mister Lawnge, Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Terry T. to finish up and voila! Before you can say "Bahamidia," Simple E picks up where she left off with "Colouz Uv Sound." Her unique musical delivery combined with some groovin' jazz tracks makes for quite the bomb, which hits you immediately on the first cut, the Terry T-produced "Kum Follow Me." The sample from The Crusaders' "Covert Action" fits the bill nicely as E takes out all those jealous of her success that aren't do anything for self. The vibe flows through other tracks such as "de Abyss," a walk through a hip hop nightmare in which everyone's gone out but her, "Paradigmz," in which E tells it like it is: "I'd rather spit dope / rhyme what I wrote / rhyme what I write / Poets don't fight / but Sucka ducks might," and "An Innocent Rage," in which E quietly goes off on the state of the world. Occasionally, this album slips into some different vibes that don't quite work. "Rant & Rave," produced by Mr. Lawnge, doesn't take away from E's skills, but it's missing the same head-nodding power of some of her other tracks, and "East Coast/West Coast" (isn't this tired yet?) is the same old same old battle with Spice 1 about which coast runs things in hip hop. Other times, though, the lighter vibe works, such as on "Realite," where E talks over an R&B-tinged cut about problems in the world and makes a quick jab at Bahamidia, "Some woman who looks like me / talks like me / one day she's gonna flip / you'll see." All in all, nothing really jumps out and screams dopeness like "Play My Funk" did, but it's a solid debut effort, and one that deserves a little attention for Simple E. Maybe this time around, she won't have any problems with people who mispronounce her name. pH level - 4/pHine ***R*** Steven J Juon ------------- SIR MIX-A-LOT, "Chief Bootknocka" (Nastymix) Who's been sleeping with my funk? Probably Mix, the self- proclaimed "Mack Daddy" of hip-hop. In years past there hasn't been much reason to dispute his title, but this time out I think somebody in Seattle was SLEEPIN' (and NOT with anything funky). OK, I've been a Mix fan since his Posse was on Broadway and his Beeper kept him busy, so I feel credible in saying this is not the Mix we know and love. His beats used to be sharper and his rhyme material, while sex-based, was not ENTIRELY sex-based. What happened to the songs about the hypocrisy of America and his love for hip-hop? Probably the two closest songs are "I Check My Bank" and "Takin My Stash". "I Check My Bank" was originally on the Trespass soundtrack, and for some reason they decided to play with the chorus and change it up a little. Frankly it was one of Mix's pHattest songs ever and they should have left well enough alone. The changes make it worse. As for "Takin My Stash", it's a decent albeit somewhat repetitive tale of being jacked by the IRS. But lets get down to what's REALLY wrong with this album. Case in point #1 is his first single, "Put Em On The Glass". This is little more than "Baby Got Back, Part 2" and suffers from a total lack of lyrical or musical creativity. Case in point #2 is his second single, "Ride". Who's idea was this? It sounds like techno garbage, and what's WORSE, it has a sample of Daisy Dukes. PLEASE! Just so you don't think this is a total diss fest, I do think it's a decent album, just not spectacular. To me, a few more songs like "Sleepin Wit My Fonk" would have been a much better choice. Over a plucky funk line (with some help from Bootsy Collins) Mix tells the tale of how his girl got stolen and he's on the roll trying to get even any way he can. Now THIS would have been a phat choice for single and video. I honestly hope it is his next single. In short, if you're a fan, then you probably want the album (that's the only reason I bought it). If you like a few of his songs but not his work as a whole this one isn't going to change your mind. You need to back track to the Mack Daddy LP. pH Level - 3/pHair ***S*** David J. -------- SKADANKS, "Give Thanks" (Elektra) It's interesting how the battles of hip hop's old school keep playing out today. When KRS-ONE introduced Skadanks on his Human Education Against Lies project in 1991, frontman Rocker T was one of the only white dancehall DJs on the scene. Not even a year later, MC Shan introduces a new DJ named Snow who blows up on eMpTyV. Shan still tries anything to get back at Mr. Parker for "The Bridge Is Over...." It took 3 years for Skadanks to get their act together and finally drop an album, though some of that probably had to do with the label that signed 'em. It was enough to make for a pretty solid debut, which jumps right out and grabs you with "Pass The Herb," an uptempo, danceable cut that knocks the "downpressor" for "the criminalization of religious custom." This jam kicks hard. From there the band moves on to some different flavors, getting deeper into more classic reggae grooves with "Friends," "Let Them Be Fed" and "911," a somewhat calmer reggae version of Flavor Flav's famous rant a couple of years back. Skadanks makes the most of their live instrumentation on tracks like "Rock And Come On," "2 Luv" and "Stopper (Jah Jah Power)." Those tracks add some nice R&B flavors that make for the best music on the album. Rocker T's delivery isn't always perfectly on point, but he hits more than he misses. He's at his best when he doesn't try to sound too much like Mad Lion, and he still has enough skills as a dancehall chatter to turn crowds out. Add some themes true to the original Rastafarian spirit, and you've got a debut that should fit quite nicely between Shabba and Mad Cobra. If Skadanks weren't on Elektra, they'd probably blow up much bigger, but that goes for just about anyone on Elektra these days. Hopefully they won't wait another 3 years before their next album. pH Level - 4/pHine ***T*** Steven J Juon ------------- SUDDEN DEATH, "Brain Damage" (demo) This short 30 minute sampler is brought to you by that nut Devo Spice, who has had more songs on Dr. Demento than Shaq has had backboard shattering dunks. If you aren't familiar with his last album, then ask Spice for a copy of this promo. Basically, he does comedic parodies of popular pop music and hip-hop tunes. The beats are generally not even CLOSE to the original and are occasionally on the shitty side, but it's all in good fun and the humorous content more than makes up for it. Take for example "Smoker", a parody of alternative artist Beck's "Loser". This one is a laugh a minute, even if you HAVEN'T heard the original. As if you hadn't guessed, it's a song about smoking -- yeah he's a smoker baby, and it'll probably kill him. Very demented, but what else would you expect from Spice? Even better though is "Do You Piss in the Shower?" This original song has a better than average (for Spice) track and is a hilarious tale about those annoying people who come up to you in the mall and ask you stupid questions for a survey. When Spice issues the beatdown at the end I'm laughing and celebrating at the same time. What else can I say? Well, if you take your hip-hop so seriously you can't stand a good natured poke, don't pick up the full length "Brain Dead" LP or any of his other work. And if the only flow you are hearing is hardcore and nubian, you might be turned off. To me, though, it's cool, and a hell of a lot of fun to boot. pH Level - 4/pHine __________________________________________________________________________ Well, we're not as punctual as we have been in the past, thanks to all those bums who are still learning the meaning of DEADLINES -- no names, y'all know who you are =^) -- but as always, we make sure we come correct. We hope you enjoyed this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together. Look at that calendar. Is 1994 almost over already? Where did the year go? We'll be sure to let you know next issue, and we'll let you know where the next year is headed. We'll also have nomination ballots for the 4th Annual New Jack Hip Hop Awards -- unless we decide to tie Charles Isbell to a chair and make him write a Goats' LP review. =^) Until then, PEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank